9780375415401

The King in the Tree: Three Novellas

Millhauser, Steven

ISBN 10: 0375415408 / 0-375-41540-8
ISBN 13: 9780375415401
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
From the author of Edwin Mullhouse and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Martin Dressler: three dazzling novellas about the many shapes of love.

“Revenge” is a tour de force about erotic love and betrayal, told through the voice of a woman showing her home to a stranger with a disturbing secret. As the once-happy wife moves from living room to bedroom, she insinuates herself into her guest’s (and the reader’s) mind—and we witness the gradual unfolding of a carefully meditated scheme of revenge.

“An Adventure of Don Juan” and the title novella transform classic fables into immediate, wholly original tales of romance. The first puts the famous lover on a country estate in England, where he attempts to perpetrate a brilliant seduction only to discover something surprising about the human heart. In the mesmerizing “The King in the Tree,” Millhauser explores devotion and denial, casting the tragedy of Tristan and Ysolt as an engrossing tale of a king’s infatuation with his beautiful wife—and the agony of her betrayal with his own nephew.

Full of passion, trysting, and fatal pleasures, these three brilliant novellas are rich with the many gifts of our most persistently imaginative romancer.

Review:
In The King in the Tree, Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Millhauser's brilliant collection of three novellas, there's one human constant: deception. The lovers in these three long stories range from a contemporary American housewife to the legendary Don Juan to Tristan and Ysolt, but the love affairs recounted here never add up to a simple geometry of two. In "Revenge," a frightening monologue, a widow gives a tour of her house to her dead husband's mistress. In "An Adventure of Don Juan," that hot-blooded Spaniard heads to the cooler climes of England and unwittingly turns a love triangle into more of a love square. This tale is set in a country manor and has the lapidary beauty of a Gainsborough painting. If the first two stories are exquisitely done, the retelling of Tristan and Ysolt is a small masterpiece. The story of the lovers is recorded by Thomas of Cornwall, advisor to the king and reluctant protector of illicit love. He closes the book with these words, which could be a description of Millhauser himself: "I, Thomas of Cornwall, prince of parchment, lord of black ink, king of all space, summoner of souls, guardian of ghosts, friend of the pear tree and the silence of waves, companion to all those who watch in the night." This book joins Jane Stevenson's Several Deceptions and John Fowles's The Ebony Tower on the short shelf of magical novella collections. --Claire Dederer

Review

Review:
“Millhauser can get drunk on words, but he’s honed his voice…and uses his lush prose and archetypal motifs to trace the outer arcs of passion, places where eros and violence meet….As the old maps say: Here be monsters. This writer is in love with a large, very beautiful tiger, and at its best the fiction he produces is an exquisite negotiation with the beast..”
–Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review (front page review)

“The secret lies in the unhurried elegance of his sentences: Millhauser know how not to overwrite, to let exactly as many small words as necessary do the work rather than straining to impress. He never fumbles a word out of place, never lets fall an unfelicitous phrase, and especially never looks down during his high-wire imaginative act.”–Jesse Berrett, San Francisco Chronicle

“These three tales, each in different ways, confirm Millhauser’s reputation as a master stylist.”
–Roger Harris, Sunday Star-Ledger

“In exploring worlds and selves so out-of-joint, Millhauser delves into our own multiple natures and sees us as we are: both shadowed and illuminated, in pieces yet whole. It makes for powerful, spellbinding reading.”–Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

“In some ways, Millhauser is one of our greatest living 19th century writers.... The King in the Tree is a moving, melancholy book about the unlovely toll exacted by love on those it has abandoned.”
–Jeff Turrentine, Los Angeles Times

“An ingenious geometer of love triangles, Millhauser tinkers with tested formulas in these three novellas, while giving full rein to his taste for the fantastical….[His] shrewd sense of psychology makes his characters’ impulses toward romantic excess manifestly believable.”
New Yorker

“No one alive writes better about yearning and heartbreak. So enchanting is his prose, so delicate his touch, that one surrenders to his plangent word-music as one does to the wistful piano pieces of Ravel and Chopin.”
–Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

“Millhauser’s writing is dazzling . . . [with] heart as well as fierce intelligence, and that combination, to my mind, signifies greatness.”
–David Leavitt, Esquire

“[Millhauser’s] latest book, a triptych of novellas, further confirms what w have come to understand about him: his brilliance in using language and his creativity in technique and subject matter...[ Revenge] casts an intelligent eye on the undeniable intersection of sex and violence…The title novella is told with both care and understanding of history and legend as well as astuteness in calling attention to the universality of love’s complications.”
–Brad Hooper, Booklist (starred and boxed review)

“There is nothing lighthearted about love, implies Millhauser, in these three dark and feverishly rich novellas…[His] portrayal of fools and self-made victims is unblinking and unsentimental. He is particularly attuned to the ways that people fall out of love…at his best dramatizing these moments of ambivalent hesitation and the disastrous effect they have on the ‘fellowships of two.’ Though he covers time-honored territory, Millhauser’s precision, coupled with his brave imagination, makes these stories as smart and fresh as they are grim.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Some of the best writing of Millhauser’s increasingly brilliant career appears in this collection of three imaginative and unusual novellas. Revenge…is a very clever psychological horror story, which creates out of simple declarative sentences a thickening atmosphere of menace and suspense. An Adventure of Don Juan brings the notorious seducer, bored with easy conquests, to England…Best of all is the title story, Millhauser’s version of the medieval romance of Tristan and Ysolt...It’s an unforgettable dramatization of the many faces of love and loyalty. Wonderful work, from one of the authentic magic-makers.”
–Kirkus (starred review)

“[Millhauser] creates a world that is exquisite in its tortures and terrors, a world which only the heightened consciousness of an artist of a dreamer could inhabit.”
–William Kennedy

“Such intelligence, wit and compassion that a reviewer’s catalogue of superlatives is inadequate to it.”
–Jonathan Yardley

From the Back Cover

Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

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Millhauser, Steven
ISBN 10: 0375415408
ISBN 13: 9780375415401
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Book Description: Knopf, 2003. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: From the author of Edwin Mullhouse and the Pulitzer Prize -- winning Martin Dressier: three dazzling novellas about the many shapes of love."Revenge" is a tour de force about erotic love and betrayal, told through the voice of a woman showing her home to a stranger with a disturbing secret. As the once-happy wife moves from front parlor to bedroom, she insinuates herself into her guest's (and the reader's) mind -- until at last we are confronted with a shocking crime of the heart."An Adventure of Don Juan" and the title novella transform classic fables into immediate, wholly original tales of romance. The first puts the famous lover on a country estate in England, where he attempts to perpetrate a brilliant seduction only to discover something surprising about the human heart. "The King in the Tree" is a mesmerizing retelling of the tragedy of Tristan and Ysolt, a tale of devotion and denial, of a king's infatuation with his beautiful wife -- and the agony of her betrayal with his own nephew.Full of passion, trysting, and fatal pleasures, these three brilliant novellas are rich with the many gifts of our most persistently imaginative romancer. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0375415408

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Book Description: Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Ships From Canada. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 256 p. Audience: General/trade. Book Description: From the author of Edwin Mullhouse and the Pulitzer Prize winning Martin Dressler: three dazzling novellas about the many shapes of love. Revenge is a tour de force about erotic love and betrayal, told through the voice of a woman showing her home to a stranger with a disturbing secret. As the once-happy wife moves from living room to bedroom, she insinuates herself into her guest s (and the reader s) mind and we witness the gradual unfolding of a carefully meditated scheme of revenge. An Adventure of Don Juan and the title novella transform classic fables into immediate, wholly original tales of romance. The first puts the famous lover on a country estate in England, where he attempts to perpetrate a brilliant seduction only to discover something surprising about the human heart. In the mesmerizing The King in the Tree, Millhauser explores devotion and denial, casting the tragedy of. Bookseller Inventory # 8954406793

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Book Description: Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A.: Alfred a Knopf Inc, Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A., 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Book Description: From the author of Edwin Mullhouse and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Martin Dressler: three dazzling novellas about the many shapes of love. “Revenge” is a tour de force about erotic love and betrayal, told through the voice of a woman showing her home to a stranger with a disturbing secret. As the once-happy wife moves from living room to bedroom, she insinuates herself into her guest’s (and the reader’s) mind—and we witness the gradual unfolding of a carefully meditated scheme of revenge. “An Adventure of Don Juan” and the title novella transform classic fables into immediate, wholly original tales of romance. The first puts the famous lover on a country estate in England, where he attempts to perpetrate a brilliant seduction only to discover something surprising about the human heart. In the mesmerizing “The King in the Tree,” Millhauser explores devotion and denial, casting the tragedy of Tristan and Ysolt as an engrossing tale of a king’s infatuation with his beautiful wife—and the agony of her betrayal with his own nephew. Full of passion, trysting, and fatal pleasures, these three brilliant novellas are rich with the many gifts of our most persistently imaginative romancer. From the Back Cover “Millhauser can get drunk on words, but he’s honed his voice and uses his lush prose and archetypal motifs to trace the outer arcs of passion, places where eros and violence meet .As the old maps say: Here be monsters. This writer is in love with a large, very beautiful tiger, and at its best the fiction he produces is an exquisite negotiation with the beast.” –Laura Miller, New York Times Book Review (front page review) “The secret lies in the unhurried elegance of his sentences: Millhauser know how not to overwrite, to let exactly as many small words as necessary do the work rather than straining to impress. He never fumbles a word out of place, never lets fall an unfelicitous phrase, and especially never looks down during his high-wire imaginative act.” About the Author Steven Millhauser received the Pulitzer Prize for Martin Dressler. He is a recipient of the Lannan Award and has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of nine previous books, he teaches at Skidmore College and lives with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-832956338

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