Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – February 10, 2009
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
After reading the first 2 stories I logged onto Amazon and ordered everything by this author.
I suggest you buy this book. I feel certain that you won't be bored.
In my opinion, "Dangerous Laughter" contains a number of excellent stories that can support repeated readings. "Cat 'N Mouse," which stands quite apart from the rest of the stories--except in that it recounts the history of a consuming rivalry--is very amusing and fun.Read more ›
This is a most enjoyable read even when you get weary of the current story only to go on to the next, better one.
I didn't care for the rest of the stories in either the opening or the later parts of the book. They all seemed a bit belabored (like the exhausting "A Precursor of the Cinema") and while "Cat 'N Mouse" is executed very well, reading it gives one whiplash. It is not an experience worth repeating. This is definitely a collection worth checking out from a library rather than purchasing.
However....with "Dangerous Laughter", it's as if Millhauser's "pen" has run dry of ideas. Most of the thirteen stories in this collection are like houses of cards--dry, clinical exercises. When Millhauser affects what I would call his "Kafkaesque phase", this is the result: overwritten, clinical, and ultimately boring exercises. As examples of this, I would include "The Dome", "The Tower", and "A Change in Fashion", which are painfully obvious ruminations on social obsessions. "In the Reign of Harad IV", "A Precursor of the Cinema", and "The Wizard of West Orange" are rather coy and pointless tales of eccentric geniuses and their productions. "Cat and Mouse" is a precise, blow-by-blow recreation of a 1950's style cartoon... clever, but the real animated deal is still infinitely preferable.
It's only when Millhauser shows his humane, Ray Bradbury-ish side, that any of the stories resonate. "The Disappearance of Elaine Coleman" is a poignant examination of how the absence of any person in a small community is felt deeply. "The Town" is one conceit of Millhauser's that works very well: the idea of a "mirror community" that residents visit at their leisure, as if in their dreams.
That is a natural construct. People often DO dream of extensions and replications of their towns. Likewise, "Room in the Attic", and the title story, are based in the deflected sexual desire of adolescents. They are also based on very common experiences.
Too much of this collection is like wandering through thickets of words, hoping for some resolution or payoff that doesn't come. Millhauser lacks the humor and irony of someone like Donald Barthelme, and he is incredibly verbose when compared to Borges.
I don't think I'll ever be drawn back to this particular volume.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
SO GLAD I DISCOVERED MILLHAUSER'S WORK, VERY PLEASED TO HAVE THISPublished 7 months ago by Johnny Maddox
Steven millhouser uses short, plain, unemotional sentences to make the reality of his characters more immediate to the reader in "Dangerous Laughter". Read morePublished on July 18, 2013 by Lori Parker
As I sat down to write this review, I thought, "How do I give my honest opinion about a Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer? Read morePublished on November 11, 2012 by Clarice
DANGEROUS LAUGHTER is a collection of 13 short stories from author Steven Millhauser, best known for his award-winning novel MARTIN DRESSLER. Read morePublished on July 24, 2012 by Stacy Helton
I thoroughly loved Millhauser's 1990 short story, "The Barnum Museum", full of understated sparkle and wonder. Therefore I really hate to say it... Read morePublished on November 28, 2011 by laurenpie
I loved these stories. They are surrealistic fables, somewhat in the spirit of Borges but with greater narrative drive and a pervasive sense of foreboding. Read morePublished on June 2, 2011 by S. Clayman