Customer Review

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfettered ambition - the "secret malady of the ages", February 27, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Paperback)
Steven Millhauser's "Martin Dressler" may not be worthy of the hype surrounding its Pulitzer Prize winning status but it's gotten more flak than it deserves. As a novel, it's strangely one dimensional and therefore disappointing, dull even. There isn't much of a storyline to speak of - Martin simply takes on successively bigger projects until he finally overeaches himself - and the characters (including Martin) are all bloodless, cardboard-like stick characters, sleepwalking (ironically, like Caroline) through their parts. Sure, the attention paid to periodic detail is meticulous and impressive but unless you're an afficionado of late 20th century artifacts, chances are that you'll find most of it rather tedious. That's not to say Millhauser's scene setting techniques isn't beautifully executed. It is - his descriptive prose is vivid and flawless but...indulgent. There were moments when I thought the plot was about to take off for some place leftfield but sadly, such promises were never fulfilled. Even the one heart stopping episode near the end of the novel wasn't exploited for its full dramatic potential. Martin's relationship with the Vernon women could have been fascinating had it been allowed to fuel the plot, but it remained underwritten and undeveloped. There's also an eerie feeling about the nature and relationship between the two Vernon sisters that was left unexplored. However, the weaknesses we perceive in "Martin Dressler" as a novel quickly dissolve when cast in the fable genre. Fables aren't after all about real life people but about morality and ideas. Stylistically, there are tell tale signs that suggest this treatment. For instance, Millhauser's distant and omniscient perspective of his characters - Martin's self centredness, his casual lusting over the hotel maid Maria, and his weekly visits to the whores is narrated in a tone that's entirely devoid of moral judgement. The perfectly still, never changing and repetitive image of the langourous Caroline "with her hair pulled tightly back" too has a fairy tale like and slightly spooky quality about it. Readers of "Martin Dressler" are advised to approach it as a fable to avoid disappointment. Despite its weaknesses, there were moments in there which I truly enjoyed. My verdict ? Not the masterpiece to write home about. Neither is it the dud it is made out to be.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

3.2 out of 5 stars (142 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (28)
4 star:
 (31)
3 star:
 (40)
2 star:
 (23)
1 star:
 (20)
 
 
 
$15.00 $10.16
Add to cart Add to wishlist
A Customer