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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer
by Steven Millhauser
Publisher: Vintage Books USA 1997
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Avg Rating: (1 review)
Winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Steven Millhauser's novel recounts the life of Martin Dressler, from his humble beginnings behind the counter of his father's cigar store to the outrageously ambitious business ventures of his adulthood. From the outset, it is clear that Dressler is a pursuant of the American dream: we see his ingenuity, his focus, and his passion, as do each of his employers. Predictably, he rises to the back offices of New York business in no time. Gradually, however, as the modest empire he's building expands, we begin to question his vision. Meanwhile, Millhauser creates the late 1800's setting without a hint of effort. From the fairy tale start ("There once lived a man named Martin Dressler...."), we simply pass without distraction through a younger world bursting with possibilities. It's a novel of the last turn-of-the-century that bears striking, if somewhat surprising parallels to our own.

Reviews

Millhauser: Knows His Architectural Details - May 3rd, 2005
Millhauser has written a book about an entrepreneur who eventually builds a mythical hotel that is way beyond imagination. The book seems to be a metaphor for The Building of America and Martin Dressler encompasses the type of obsessed and driven character that it takes to do so. However, it is full of long paragraphs of exterior and interior architectural descriptions that initially are interesting but eventually become tedious. There is very little dialogue and the characters are not well developed. Steven Millhauser has written a book that has the feeling of having been written at the turn of the century.

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