From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Martin Dressler" comes a stunningly original new book set in a Connecticut town on one magical summer night. The delicious cast of characters includes a band of teenage girls who break into homes and leave notes, a dreamlike lover on a backyard swing, and a beautiful mannequin who steps down from her ...
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Martin Dressler" comes a stunningly original new book set in a Connecticut town on one magical summer night. The delicious cast of characters includes a band of teenage girls who break into homes and leave notes, a dreamlike lover on a backyard swing, and a beautiful mannequin who steps down from her department store window.
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-08-23 Compared to his ambitious, Pulitzer Prize-winning Martin Dressler, Millhauser's new novella may seem slight, but it has a resonance and fairy tale allure that belie its slim page count. Set on a sultry summer night when an almost-full moon hovers over Southern Connecticut, the book follows a handful of small-town characters who yearn for anonymity, recognition, love or escape. Laura Engstrom, 14, seeks a solitary release from the deep restlessness that makes "her bones itch." Haverstraw, 39, lives with his mother while he works on a novel and despairs of ever achieving anything with his life. Janet Manning, 20, longs for the appearance of a "heartbreaker" she met on the beach that afternoon. A drunken romantic, William Cooper, 28, gazes into storefront displays, hoping for love and a lucky break. An old woman who lives alone yearns for company. He gracefully intertwines these lives and others with magical elementsÄa mannequin that comes alive, a chorus of "night voices," a silent visit from a moon goddessÄto create a trance world suffused with luminescence and longing, where each character verges on the brink of fulfillment or collapse. Millhauser sketches each person's plight in a few skillful lines and repeats gestures and thoughts so their variations resound on many levels. A set of abandoned dolls, for example, awaken and pantomime a sorrowful romance that echoes Janet's desire for her young lover, Haverstraw's long-standing friendship with a friend's mother and Coop's abstracted love for the mannequin. Only a scattering of facile nursery-rhyme type of songs echo hollowly in Millhauser's elegant, penetrating tale. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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