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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American…

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

by Steven Millhauser

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1,213436,575 (3.64)49
Title:Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
Authors:Steven Millhauser
Info:Vintage (1997), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, To read (inactive)
Tags:Pulitzer, USA, Summer Sub Club

Work details

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.
  2. 00
    The Embezzler by Louis Auchincloss (Laura1124)
  3. 00
    Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (Laura1124)

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» See also 49 mentions

English (40)  Spanish (3)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
To: Caleb Carr. This is how you write a novel that shows (deftly) how much you know about 19th-century New York.

To: Mark Helprin. This is how you write a magic-realist book about 19th-century New York and still make it cohesive and focused.

There's a lot more going on beneath the surface of this simple fable than at first appears. Slight shades of Terry Gilliam, Brian Moore (The Great Victorian Collection), and Baz Luhrmann, but set in an only slightly askew version of Gilded Age/turn of the century NYC. The themes of striving for success, the American dream, the phantasmagoria of consumer culture, and the nature of reality and illusion are still very timely. The book started out in the realm of the plausible and built to a vivid fever dream of fantasy in the final third. I will look forward to reading more of Millhauser's work. ( )
  sansmerci | Nov 24, 2015 |
Martin Dressler is a young man in Victorian era New York who comes from a cigar store background, but has the ambition and talent to rise in the world. He is truly a dreamer, and his visions cause him to build larger and more elaborate apartments/hotels. But his creations rise to the level of fantasy. His imagination overpowers his practical side, which leads to problems. The prose follows Martin's trajectory: it begins as straightforward storytelling, but as the tale proceeds it grows complex and mystical, building description upon description. This is a beautifully constructed story and truly a pleasure to read. ( )
  gbelik | Oct 2, 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. ( )
  autumnturner76 | Sep 22, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:36 -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)

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