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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer

Millhauser is delicious. He’s ooky like Palanhiuk but not liable to gross you out. The worst Millhauser can do is bore you to death with lists upon lists of elegantly woven description, a la David Foster Wallace, only more interesting. This book gave me a sense of deja vu in that the main plot point was also the subject of one of his short stories “paradise Park” which I had read a few years back as part of The Knife Thrower

The subject of both the novel and the short story are a man who is an incessant developer; he must build newer and greater spectacles. Mostly, his desire to build the newest and the most elegant is rewarded, but like all capitalist endeavors, his creations eventually collapse under their own weight. Millhauser weaves a collection of characters who are almost Randian in their devotion to ethics and virtue and also, regrettably in their two-dimensionality. But, I rarely go to his books for the characters but for his knack for deep rich description which seems almost unparalleled in contemporary fiction in books under 500 pages. Martin Dressler is a slender novel which makes it much easier to savor every page.