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Dispatch: 23 January 2017
Martin Dressler: The Tale of an Americ/Millhauser, St/Paper/0679781277/S048-B1
Steven Millhauser's eagerly awaited new novel is set in late-nineteenth-century New York City, when new buildings were bursting from the bedrock of Manhattan every day and you might have met an inventor or entrepreneur on any street corner. One such entrepreneur is Martin Dressler, a cigar maker's son, a young man who has the audacity to make his dreams come true and the ability to do son on such a grand scale that other people will want to dream them too - for a little while. We watch as the young Martin makes the ascent from a hotel bellhop to a builder of hotels of his own. We witness his strange enchantment by two sisters, one of whom becomes his companion and business partner, the other his ghostly, elusive bride. And when Martin sets out to build the Grand Cosmo, a creation so vast that it will rival the world itself, this mesmerizing novel brings us face to face with the ambiguity beneath the optimism of the American dream with a swiftness and intensity that are in themselves magnificently dreamlike. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.