This collection is not for those who like their stories to go in straight lines. Though Millhauser is intersted in straight lines. In my experience with his work, he’s very much interested in the architecture of our lives. If I inferred anything from what he’s up to here, there seems to be a theme about happiness and place. It is not new to say we are forever discontent, but to say that we’d become more in love with a woman’s reflection in the mirror than the woman herself, well, that’s new. Or that there’s a place where they will help counsel you to commit suicide? That’s new as well. Or that there’s a place that will expel you when you no longer belong there? You get the idea.
I find Millhauser to be very much underrated, but maybe he’s just my kind of strange.
Sometimes, when I am looking for something new to read, I’ll peruse lists like this one (http://www.pulitzer.org/bycat/Fiction). When I saw this title, I was surprised because I not only didn’t know the book, I’d never even heard of the author.
What a remarkable book. It evokes the spirit of Ragtime as well as the tone of writers like Dreiser. Millhauser’s sentences are monuments in and of themselves. Martin Dressler is a character I’ll not soon forget. He comes off like a fictional version of Robert Moses, one who lives best “in a world of definite things.”
This book made me long to walk the streets of late 19th century New York (though contemporary New York would likely be an adequate substitute) to admire the buildings, the constructions, the details. Imagine being there when New York was still becoming New York.
There is a lot to consider here, particularly concerning the architecture of public spaces and what happens to Martin, very much the quintessential American dreamer.
Wonderful, wonderful book. I wish I had a more formal excuse to write about it, so I could dig back into it. I will definitely re-read this one! You know that euphoria that washes over you after you finish a great book? I’m feeling it right now.