Quotes by Steven Millhauser

"After all, we were young. We were fourteen and fifteen, scornful of childhood, remote from the world of stern and ludicrous adults. We were bored, we were restless, we longed to be seized by any whim or passion and follow it to the farthest reaches of our natures. We wanted to live – to die – to burst into flame – to be transformed into angels or explosions. Only the mundane offended us, as if we secretly feared it was our destiny . By late afternoon our muscles ached, our eyelids grew heavy with obscure desires. And so we dreamed and did nothing, for what was there to do, played ping-pong and went to the beach, loafed in backyards, slept late into the morning – and always we craved adventures so extreme we could never imagine them. In the long dusks of summer we walked the suburban streets through scents of maple and cut grass, waiting for something to happen."
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"All words are masks and the lovelier they are, the more they are meant to conceal."
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"God pity the poor novelist."
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"But what struck me was the book-madness of the place--books lay scattered across the unmade bed and the top of a battered-looking desk, books stood in knee-high piles on the floor, books were crammed sideways and right side up in a narrow bookcase that rose higher than my head and leaned dangerously from the wall, books sat in stacks on top of a dingy dresser. The closet door was propped open by a pile of books, and from beneath the bed a book stuck out beside the toe of a maroon slipper."
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"So imagine a fire going -- wood snapping the way it does when it’s a little green — the wind rattling the windows behind the curtains -- and one of those Chopin melodies that feel like sorrow and ecstasy all mixed together pouring from the keys -- and you have my idea of happiness. Or just reading, reading and lamplight, the sound of pages turning.
And so you dare to be happy.
You do that thing.
You dare."
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Books by Steven Millhauser

  • The Barnum Museum
  • 853 ratings
  • April 5th 2014 by Dalkey Archive Press

    (first published 1990)

  • Enchanted Night
  • 802 ratings
  • October 10th 2000 by Vintage

    (first published 1999)

  • Little Kingdoms
  • 422 ratings
  • February 3rd 1998 by Vintage

    (first published 1993)

  • In the Penny Arcade
  • 421 ratings
  • December 2nd 1999 by Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )

    (first published 1985)

Steven Millhauser
  • Steven Millhauser

  • Date of birth: August 03, 1943
  • Born: in New York, The United States.

  • Description: Millhauser was born in New York City, grew up in Connecticut, and earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965. He then pursued a doctorate in English at Brown University. He never completed his dissertation but wrote parts of Edwin Mullhouse and From the Realm of Morpheus in two separate stays at Brown. Between times at the university, he wrote Portrait of a Romantic at his parents' house in Connecticut. His story "The Invention of Robert Herendeen" (in The Barnum Museum) features a failed student who has moved back in with his parents; the story is loosely based on this period of Millhauser's life.

    Until the Pulitzer Prize, Millhauser was best known for his 1972 debut novel, Edwin Mullhouse. This novel, about a precocious writer whose career ends abruptly with his death at age eleven, features the fictional Jeffrey Cartwright playing Boswell to Edwin's Johnson. Edwin Mullhouse brought critical acclaim, and Millhauser followed with a second novel, Portrait of a Romantic, in 1977, and his first collection of short stories, In The Penny Arcade, in 1986.

    Possibly the most well-known of his short stories is "Eisenheim the Illusionist" (published in "The Barnum Museum"), based on a pseudo-mythical tale of a magician who stunned audiences in Vienna in the latter part of the 19th century. It was made into the film, The Illusionist (2006).

    Millhauser's stories often treat fantasy themes in a manner reminiscent of Poe or Borges, with a distinctively American voice. As critic Russell Potter has noted, "in (Millhauser's stories), mechanical cowboys at penny arcades come to life; curious amusement parks, museums, or catacombs beckon with secret passageways and walking automata; dreamers dream and children fly out their windows at night on magic carpets."

    Millhauser's collections of stories continued with The Barnum Museum (1990), Little Kingdoms (1993), and The Knife Thrower and Other Stories (1998). The unexpected success of Martin Dressler in 1997 brought Millhauser increased attention. Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories made the New York Times Book Review list of "10 Best Books of 2008".

    Millhauser lives in Saratoga Springs, New York and teaches at Skidmore College.

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