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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

COLLECTED ESSAYS ON LITERATURE AND CRITICISM:

TRE Press
Realisms

THE IDEA OF LITERATURE

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EXPERIMENTAL FICTION NOW

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INNOVATIVE WOMEN WRITERS

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AMERICAN POSTMODERN FICTION

APF (2)

BETWEEN SILLINESS AND SATIRE:BLACK HUMOR FICTION

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LET'S REVIEW: BOOK REVIEWING AS LITERARY CRITICISM

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THE ART OF DISTURBANCE: THE NOVELS OF JAMES PURDY

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« Potentials for Literature | Main | Lost in Translation »

08/19/2008

Comments

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E K

I know this isn't the type of post that will garner many posts, but it is appreciated and has motivated me into looking more into Mr. Millhauser. And I have added one of his books to my 'buy' list. A very thorough and welcomed post.

Jay Livingston

"artist figures perfecting their craft in their own visionary if idiosyncratic ways." Perfecting and pushing their creations to further and further extremes. But what's missing in most of these stories and even the novels is relationships among people. For Millhauser's artist-protagonists, other people are mostly an impediment, and the same seems true of the author. Millhauser's real passion is for the relation between the artist and his creation (miniatures, clockwork dolls, hotels, etc.). Human relationships seem like a distraction, necessary perhaps but not a matter of great interest or curiosity.

Dan Green

"For Millhauser's artist-protagonists, other people are mostly an impediment, and the same seems true of the author."

How would you ever know such a thing? Have you met the author? Had a beer with him?

In most of Millhauser's stories of obsessive artists (especially in "Franklin Payne"), the human cost of their obsession is made very clear. A good argument could be made that his fiction is concerned squarely with the toll artistic talent takes on "relationships with people." It's the price that has to be paid.

Jay Livingston

How would you ever know such a thing? Have you met the author? Had a beer with him?

I didn't mean as a person. I have no idea whether he prefers Bass Ale or Bud Lite, whether he spends his nonwriting hours alone in his woodworking studio or in intense conversations with intimates. I meant that what as a writer, he seemed more interested in the details of the artistic creations of his characters than in the details of relationships among characters.

You say that his stories are "concerned with the toll artistic talent takes" on human relationships. I said that in his fiction, such relationships were an impediment to artistic creation. So we seem to agree that an important element of the worlds Millhauser creates is the conflict between the two.

Dan Green

"I meant that what as a writer, he seemed more interested in the details of the artistic creations of his characters than in the details of relationships among characters."

This is true of many of his stories, although not all. However, I take this to be a descriptive statement rather than an evaluative judgment. That he is interested in one rather than the other merely indicates what kind of writer he is--not one who is going to dwell that much on "relationships between characters."

JDJ

Good tribute. Actually, in 1997 Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize for MARTIN DRESSLER: THE TALE OF AN AMERICAN DREAM (rather than the National Book Award). The year before that the same novel was a finalist for the National Book Award but SHIP FEVER: STORIES by Andrea Barrett won.

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