The Knife Thrower: and Other Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)

Steven Millhauser

Published by Vintage, 1999
ISBN 10: 0679781633 / ISBN 13: 9780679781639
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Synopsis: Included in this short story collection is "The Sisterhood of the Night", now a major motion picture. From the bestselling author of Martin Dressler, this volume explores the magnificent obsessions of the unfettered imagination, as well as the darker, subterranean currents that fuel them.
 
With the panache of an old-fashioned magician, Steven Millhauser conducts his readers from the dark corners beneath the sunlit world to a balloonist's tour of the heavens. He transforms department stores and amusement parks into alternate universes of infinite plentitude and menace. He unveils the secrets of a maker of automatons and a coven of teenage girls. And on every page of The Knife Thrower and Other Stories, Millhauser confirms his stature as a narrative enchanter in the tradition of Nabokov, Calvino, and Borges.

Review: The Knife Thrower introduces a series of distinctively Millhauserian worlds: tiny, fabulous, self-enclosed, like Fabergé eggs or like the short-story genre itself. Flying carpets; subterranean amusement parks; a band of teenage girls who meet secretly in the night in order to do "nothing at all"; a store with departments of Moorish courtyards, volcanoes, and Aztec temples: these are Millhauser's stock-in-trade as a storyteller, and he employs them to characteristically magical effect. As in Millhauser's other books, including Edwin Mullhouse and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Martin Dressler, his subject is nothing less than the faculty of imagination itself. Here, however, the flights of fancy are unencumbered by Martin Dressler's wealth of period detail, and the result is fun-house prose whose pleasures and terrors are equally gossamer. Millhauser possesses the unique ability to render the quotidian strange, so that, emerging from his stories, the reader often feels the world itself an unfamiliar place--as do the shoppers at his department store, that marketplace of skillful illusion: "As we hurry along the sidewalk, we have the absurd sensation that we have entered still another department, composed of ingeniously lifelike streets with artful shadows and reflections--that our destinations lie in a far corner of the same department--that we are condemned to hurry forever through these artificial halls, bright with late afternoon light, in search of the way out."

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Title: The Knife Thrower: and Other Stories (...
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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