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Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright Paperback – April 16, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 16, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679766529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679766520
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in 1972, Millhauser's cult novel is both a parody of literary biography and a heartfelt evocation of childhood.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This 1972 first novel was written in the form of a biography of a fictitious person by a fictitious author. The plot follows the life of Mullhouse, an "eccentric young show-off who fancied himself something of a literary wonder"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Millhauser's descriptions are beautiful and perfect.
Olivia
Mr. Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize for "Martin Dressler".
R.S. Encaustic
This is basically a very detailed account of a cartoon.
edible cville...

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By edible cville... on January 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It is one of the most original pieces of work I've read in years. It masterfully blends truth and fiction in such a way that you are drawn into the life story of Edwin Mullhouse. Beyond the descriptive imagery, which is fantastic, and brought back many of my own memories of childhood, this book plays with form, in that it is a FICTIONAL account written in the style of a classic English biography. The narrator is a child, but writes in an adult manner, giving detailed accounts and analysis to such events in Edwin's life as how he learned to speak, his first comic book, and the first great love of his life (in 1st grade).
This juxtaposition of adult analysis with childish feelings, toys, and concerns makes a great new form of "fictional biography"
I also loved the "physicality" of words that exists in this work. Edwin, just learning to write, can't help seeing words as pictures. For example, "yellow" is a boat with a rudder and two smoke stacks and "bed" is two fat men looking at each other over a table. Edwin is fascinated with cartoons and comics and writes his masterpiece, "Cartoons" when he is just 11. This is basically a very detailed account of a cartoon. I LOVED IT! To "read" a cartoon and see it in your head as you read brings a new dimension to the printed page. The words become images and the images are words. Great reading, and highly recommended for any serious writer or anyone who wants to remember their childhood....(note: I picked up this book when I heard Charles Frazier was reading it; he wrote Cold Mountain---not only a great author, but a great book critic it seems ;)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Previous reviewers are right to single out Millhauser's stunningly accurate, beautifully rendered descriptions of the minutiae of childhood--he remembers everything of childhood we've forgotten.
More importantly, in his own playful and deadly way, he draws readers into a sinister dance, making us accomplices to the crime at the heart of the book. Among other things, if you're a reader of "real" biographies, you'll likely return to your nonfiction with a slightly different take on the genre.
Not that the following statement will win the books zillions of new readers, but, if you love (or at least admire) Nabokov's Pale Fire, be sure not to miss Edwin Mullhouse.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eric Schenk VINE VOICE on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
SPOILER ALERT * * * * * SPOILER ALERT * * * * * SPOILER ALERT * * * * * SPOILER ALERT

The reviews here, even the many offering high praise, have missed what is going on in this book. Jeffrey Cartwright was hoping his friend, Edwin, was going to become a major literary figure to whom Jeffrey could serve as Boswell. When Jeffrey finally figured out that Edwin was not a genius, Jeffrey lost it and killed Edwin. He then wrote this biography trying to pass off Edwin's inanities as genius so as to salvage his own need to have been in the presence of greatness.

Many are right in saying that this book provides a powerful evocation of childhood. But at its core, Millhauser has written a clever, biting satire lampooning the need of so many of us to be in the presence of greatness and the bitterness that follows when we find we have been deceived.

I can understand negative reviews by those who missed the nasty conceit underlying this seeming tale of childhood innocence. But I was dumbfounded that not one of the many positive reviews picked up on it. This, as much as anything, serves to establish what a devilishly wonderful book this is.

If you like this sort of thing, track down a copy of Thomas Berger's Sneaky People.Sneaky People: A Novel
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Olivia on October 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Edwin Mullhouse was a wonderful book. Millhauser carefully weaves his story through the voice of Jeffrey, a young biographer. Millhauser's descriptions are beautiful and perfect. Some questions to keep in mind while reading this novel, is Jeffrey really who he says he is, and is Edwin really who Jeffrey portrays him as? Would Edwin exist without Jeffrey? This story cannot be taken at face value, the true meaning lies behind the words. A great read!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
Edwin Mullhouse is the story of a young author who takes his inspiration from comic books and animated shorts, and who was tragically dead at 11 years old. (Nothing is given away here, it's said in the first paragraph.) Millhauser weaves together a tale that, while intently focused, is incredibly reflexive, to the point where the author's intent seems to be to call to attention the art of biography as much as the art of creative writing.
The ages of the characters are highly important. If they were older, Rose Dorn and all of Edwin's other obsessions would be out of place. However, we almost understand everything that Edwin goes through, while Jeffrey (the biographer and Edwin's best friend) is left to puzzle it out. Jeffrey's memory is brought into question not by himself, but by his insistance that it is infallible. And, often, it is impeccable at remembering details of early childhood, as far as we know. His intentions are honorable, but just how far can we trust him?
The other notable thing in this book is the language. Millhauser's words are vibrant, whether describing a closed down amusement park or a cartoon or the haunting of a writer. Where else can one find a line such as: "And you see, there are all these words, nothing but words, nothing but words, what are these words, and there they are, so that's what you're faced with, words, words..."
This book is magic. That's all there is to it.
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