Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner

The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

       
 

Publisher: Phoenix

Length: 293 pages

About: 19th century entrepreneur makes concrete

Style: 3rd person

Where: US (New York)

When: 1880s - 1900s

 

 

Publisher’s synopsis:

Young Martin Dressler begins his career as an industrious helper in his father's cigar store. In the course of his restless young manhood, he makes a swift and eventful rise to the top, accompanied by two sisters--one a dreamlike shadow, the other a worldly business partner. As the eponymous Martin's vision becomes bolder and bolder he walks a haunted line between fantasy and reality, madness and ambition, art and industry, a sense of doom builds piece-by-hypnotic piece until this mesmerizing journey into the heart of an American dreamer reaches its bitter-sweet conclusion.

 

Extract:

There once lived a man named Martin Dressler, a shopkeeper's son, who rose from modest beginnings to a height of dreamlike good fortune. This was toward the end of the nineteenth century, 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 with big display windows made possible by an improved process for manufacturing sheets of glass. Although Martin Dressler was a shopkeeper's son, he too dreamed his dream, and at last he was lucky enough to do what few people even dare to imagine: he satisfied his heart's desire. But this is a perilous privilege, which the gods watch jealously, waiting for the flaw, the little flaw, that brings everything to ruin, in the end.

 

Reviews:

Good:

Stories, like conjuring tricks, are invented because history is inadequate to our dreams.' So says the narrator of Steven Millhauser's story 'Eisenheim the Illusionist,' and that claim might stand as an epigraph to his new conjuring trick of a novel, 'Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer.

New York Times, Janet Burroway 12th May 1996

 

Not so good:

Millhauser's literary experiment is a marvellous, highly intelligent and provoking artefact; but it fails, profoundly, to engage on any but an intelletual level.

The Times, Calre Messud, 26th March 1998


About the author

Born August 3, 1943 Millhauser was born in New York City, grew up in Connecticut, and earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965. He then pursued a doctorate in English at Brown University. Millhauser lives in Saratoga Springs, New York and teaches at Skidmore College.

 
 

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<1996> -  <1998>

 

 


Ratings

Adventure

 4

Filmability

 7

Historical

 9

Humorous

 2

Intellectuality

 4

Life-changing

 6

Page turner

 4

Readability

 5

Romance

 6

 

Age guide: 12

 

 

 

 

 

Novels by same author:


 

 

 

 

Adaptations:

None to date

 

 

 

© PWF.co.uk

 

 

 

 

2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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