Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Barnum Museum - Steve Millhauser

I was in the bookstore yesterday enjoying my last day before work, when I happened upon several books by Steven Millhauser, A name that had popped up on a friend's TBR list and intrigued me since his stories often have fantastical elements. He has won numerous awards including a Pulitzer, although sadly from the availability of his work on Amazon, I take it that he is not as widely read as he should be.

While in the bookstore, I managed to read a short story of his from his collection titled: The Barnum Museum. The story takes place around a game table in the midst of a game of Clue. Somehow within the breadth of a few pages, Steven Millhauser manages to take you into the people that surround the table exploring fears and desires, and the definitions of a family. At the same time, Millhauser breathes life into the game of Clue, which itself becomes populated with real characters and their own individual sets of motivations and desires. As the game progresses, and the the characters of Clue wander through the mansion trying to find a murderer or maybe themselves, so does our understanding of those who sit around the table.

I was so enchanted with the story that I have ordered The Barnum Museum online, and will be going to the bookstore after work to pick up another collection titled, Little Kingdoms. If you're a fan of Kelly Link, be sure to check him out!
(*Update* - Just found out that The Illusionist was based on a short story of his.)

9 comments:

callie said...

You are so right about Millhauser, woefully under-read -- and he's such a delight. Once you make your way through The Barnum Museum, do check out Martin Dressler...excellent.

CChen said...

Definitely Callie, thanks for the recommendation!
If you haven't checked out Kelly Link, I'd highly recommend it. When I first picked up Steven Millhauser's work, I was reminded of hers.

Carrie said...

Thanks for the great recommendation! I look forward to finding some of his books (hopefully at the library).

Also, enjoy the Poe. I was surprised at which stories stayed with me...

CChen said...

Definitely Carrie, the book makes me feel as if I'm rediscovering Poe--- so many stories that I've missed in high school, and others that now make a much deeper impression.

I love your blog btw, I see you've read a lot of authors that I've been meaning to try, so I can't wait to peruse your site and get recommendations =).

Same goes for yours Callie, beautiful blog!

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