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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American…
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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (edition 1997)

by Steven Millhauser

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1,160407,004 (3.63)40
Member:hemlokgang
Title:Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
Authors:Steven Millhauser
Info:Vintage (1997), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, To read (inactive)
Rating:*****
Tags:Pulitzer, USA, Summer Sub Club

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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

  1. 10
    Freeman Walker by David Allan Cates (Othemts)
    Othemts: These novels share in common a central figure who represents certain ideals of the American character as well unexpected turns toward magical realism late in the narrative.
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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I found this a big disappointment after Edwin Mullhouse, one of my all-time favorite novels. It is missing a compelling central character, and without that, the whole book becomes little more than a compendium of Gilded Age trivia. Millhauser lavishes so much attention on the period detail and so little on plot or characterization, or even an exploration of the themes he seems to want to take up: ambition, artifice, and their conflation in the word “dream.” I think he has written only novellas and short fiction since Martin Dressler, and that’s a wise choice, since this is really a way-overextended short story. He has done fine work in that form, and I still feel he is one of the most interesting contemporary American writers I've read. But this summer I've read three Pulitzer Prize winners from the last 15 years, and I'm beginning to think there's a problem with the judges... ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
How does a book about an entrepreneur in the 1890's win a pulitzer in 1997?

The 1890s,it was a time when ``on any streetcorner in America you might see some ordinary-looking citizen who was destined to invent a new kind of bottlecap or tin can, start a chain of five-cent stores, sell a faster and better elevator, or open a fabulous new department store....''

But Martin Dressler's dreams directly reflect the modern commercialism of the 1990s, with it's overabundance of chain stores, malls, fast-food chains, theme parks, resorts, etc. etc.

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
How does a book about an entrepreneur in the 1890's win a pulitzer in 1997?

The 1890s,it was a time when ``on any streetcorner in America you might see some ordinary-looking citizen who was destined to invent a new kind of bottlecap or tin can, start a chain of five-cent stores, sell a faster and better elevator, or open a fabulous new department store....''

But Martin Dressler's dreams directly reflect the modern commercialism of the 1990s, with it's overabundance of chain stores, malls, fast-food chains, theme parks, resorts, etc. etc.

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
This book started out promising, but was a waste. I kept waiting for a plot, but over two hundred pages and no plot and then it just stopped. Don't waste your time. ( )
  AutumnTurner | Dec 29, 2013 |
A little on the chilly side, smacking a bit of morality tale—I expect a little more subtlety out of Mr. Millhauser these days. But I enjoyed it, and especially liked the alt-old New York... you could put this on a short shelf with Winter's Tale and not be amiss, though this doesn't have all the magic of Helprin's book. ( )
  lisapeet | Oct 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Millhauserprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There once lived a man named Martin Dressler, a shopkeeper's son, who rose from modest beginnings to a height of dreamlike good fortune.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679781277, Paperback)

Martin Dressler is a turn-of-the-century New York City entrepreneur who begins in his father's cigar store but dreams of a bigger empire. That dream shapes into a series of large hotels. At first, Dressler's seems the archetypal American success story, but he does not quite grasp the future. The Manhattan of fabled skyline is about to take shape just over the horizon, but Dressler cannot see it. So the story becomes another kind of fable, as Dressler contemplates having "dreamed the wrong dream."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In Steven Millhauser's new novel set in turn-of-the-century New York City, we watch young entrepreneur Martin Dressler like many of his day make the ascent from hotel bellhop to builder of hotels. This mesmerizing novel brings us face to face with the ambiguity beneath the optimism of the American dream with a swiftness and intensity that are in themselves magnificently dreamlike.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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