And I had existential panic during some of the longer passages about the thematic follies in his hotels, pages of research-des Gosh, what an odd book. After a while, this all becomes pretty boring. Then maybe we could feel more what Martin was going through. But then the hotels which the hero builds get ever more elaborate and weirder and the book shimmies into magical realism which is a thing where you write about something blatantly impossible as if it's just boring and everyday and complete zoos on the 54th floor and an Arabian desert on the 70th floor is something an ambitious hotel entrepreneur would be able to pull off in the 1920s if he had flair. Down a narrow sidestreet in a bright crack between warehouses, an East River scow filled with cobblestones slipped by.
Millhauser is great at playing with themes of worlds within worlds, fantasies come to life, and magic tricks, and it's great fun to inhabit this space with him. That's because Martin Dressler is a fairy tale. I'd also like to know what was passed over the year this won the Pulitzer - was it like a typical Oscars night, the choices a bit thin so wins? This novel is particularly resonant today as we experience the effects our insatiable appetite for wealth and property. Because they're composed of smushy-gushy dreamy-creamy language that I do not brook. Then — guess what — he opens another hotel. It is missing a compelling central character, and without that, the whole book becomes little more than a compendium of Gilded Age trivia.
He put his hat on his head and started back toward the path. As a master fabulist, Ingersoll argues, Millhauser is preoccupied with extravagance both in the subject matter of his fiction and in his style. Haw's account is not a history of how the bridge was made, but rather of what people have made of the Brooklyn Bridge - in film, music, literature, art, and politics - from its opening ceremonies to the blackout of 2003. This is the story of Martin Dressler: A tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser which receives a hesitant thumb up from me. The characters and story were completely flat. There are pages and pages of unnecessary description, and then the last line of a chapter will be so cutting and flawless it may as well be a goddamn diamond.
He does so well at this that at 15 he becomes a desk clerk, and takes over the little cigar stand in the hotel lobby. It's hard, if not impossible, to pin down -- and I don't think trying to do so helps, actually. There is such a tiny character arc for Martin as well - he only achieves enlightenment during the last 5 pages of this short novel. It is maddeningly unreal, despite what must have been exhaustive research that went into the exhausting descriptions the author deploys to try to convince us of the authenticity of his depictions of late 19th century New York City. I'd say a reading of over 90 on the dullometer.
He wonders finally if his hubris spelled out his doom or perhaps his relations with the Vernon sisters was ill conceived from the start, a marriage to the more practical instead of the prettier. So if you hated Atlas Shrugged—and there are plenty of reasons to hate Atlas Shrugged—you'll probably love Martin Dressler. I felt like slapping the hapless Martin around for his blindness to love which is fine but the author kept returning to this theme a painful number of times that I felt he was beating me over the head with it. The book holds out an important potential of American life in the form of self-knowledge and growth of understanding combined with the ability to articulate and to pursue a dream. The descriptions, particularly in the first half, lit up a city fueled by gaslights, not electricity, somewhere deep in the collective unconscious. While each new project enjoys great success, Martin is filled with the sensation that he wants to make more.
Full forest green leather, with elaborate gilt-stamped decorations framed with ornate gilt borders on the covers. But just quickly: a lot of talking about the mundane in a mundane way; there is a lot of detail in this book but not really any telling detail; main character seems two dimensional, and so do the rest; the narration seems very distant from the story and doesn't involve the reader's imagination. Millhauser wants us to see through the eyes of a dreamer. He is intelligent and a hard worker. But then the hotels which the hero builds get ever more elaborate and weirder and the book shimmies into magical realism which is a thing where you write about something blatantly impossible as if it's just boring and everyday and complete zoos on the 54th floor and an Arabian desert on the 70th floor is something an ambitious hotel entreprene It's about work, and fairly unglamorous work at that, hotel construction and management. Therein lies the frustration for the average reader: In the form of fascinating subplots, themes, and characters, they see Millhauser stumble seemingly at random upon perfect jewels.
A fascinating and provocative portrayal of turn-of-the-century America that hums with energy and wit. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. Martin lead the Vernon women down clattering station stairways to look at details: strips of sun and shadow rippling across a cabhorse's back under a curving El track, old steel rails glinting in the cobblestones. Martin Dressler is ambitious, but he is not after money or glory or fame. This one caught me by surprise.
Like most fictional dreamers, he's ahead of his time, and his dream can't survive in his world. When that is successful, he opens another — and then another. Which one are you more likely to choose? Young Martin Dressler begins his career as a helper in his father's cigar store. Naturally, Martin, the master of turning dreams into reality, is attracted to the dream-like woman, who turns out to be a master of turning reality into dreams. It would be interesting to begin with Martin, a wealthy 30-something entrepreneur, who's married to a beautiful wife, who has everything in the world---but is completely miserable.