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

by Steven Millhauser

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1,474519,094 (3.55)70
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)
Member:annafofanna
Title:Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Vintage Contemporaries)
Authors:Steven Millhauser
Info:Vintage (1997), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
I knew that I needed to write this review soon as the characters, plot and my reading experience would quickly drift from memory. There was simply nothing in this novel that resonated with me, when in fact it should have. I believe in individuals having big dreams and pursuing those dreams with heart and mind fully engaged. Martin Dressler was one of those dreamers, but I never cared about Martin or his dream. I never believed Martin cared about his dream. And so, I could never care much about the story of Martin and his dreams. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
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.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
Crafted with great skill and attention to detail, often to dizzying effect. I didn't enjoy the main character's journey much, though. ( )
  deeEhmm | Apr 3, 2019 |
Martin Dressler, the ambitious son of a cigar maker, has big dreams even as a young child. He starts by delivering cigars for his father and finds an ingenious way to make profits soar. As a teenager, he starts his career employed as a young hotel bellhop. He catches the eye of the hotel owner and soon becomes his secretary and mentor. As a young man he falls under the spell of a mother and her two grown daughters while building hotels of his own. One daughter becomes his business partner when he delves into opening a chain of diners while the other daughter, Caroline, mystifies him with her silent, elusive personality. She reminds him of a girl he used to know...Strangely enough, he ends up marrying this shadowy, ghostly woman.
This is not a coming of age story. Readers watch as Martin goes through childhood and teenage years to adulthood without exposing friendships; it's as if he doesn't have any, puberty, or any other angst-y growing up tribulation. His personality is firmly grounded in business. There is a moment when Martin decides it is time for him to lose his virginity and almost without ceremony or fanfare, he visits a brothel. This becomes a matter of fact, once a week habit he continues into adulthood. Not much is made of sex either way. However, his wedding night is particularly uncomfortable.

What is especially fun to watch is late nineteenth century New York City growing up along side Martin. The street names change over the years. Buildings grow taller. Oil lamps are crowded out by electricity one by one. The Manhattan we know today competes with Martin's metropolis of his dreams until they are both so large there isn't room enough for the both of them. But, which New York lives on? ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 19, 2018 |
Story of a hotel entrepreneur at the turn of the 20th century. Like most Millhauser, it's dreamy, beautifully written, and lives on the shores of the fantasy genre. ( )
  mritchie56 | Oct 21, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Steven Millhauserprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rutten, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my sister, Carla
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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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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.

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