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In the Penny Arcade
     

In the Penny Arcade

5.0 1
by Steven Millhauser
 

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The seven stories of In the Penny Arcade blend both the real and the fantastic in a seductive mix that illuminates the full range of Steven Millhauser's gifts, from "August Eschenburg, " the story of the clockmaker's son whose extraordinary talent for creating animated figures is lost on a world whose taste for the perverse and crude supercedes that of the refined and

Overview

The seven stories of In the Penny Arcade blend both the real and the fantastic in a seductive mix that illuminates the full range of Steven Millhauser's gifts, from "August Eschenburg, " the story of the clockmaker's son whose extraordinary talent for creating animated figures is lost on a world whose taste for the perverse and crude supercedes that of the refined and beautiful, to "Cathay, " a kingdom whose wonders include elaborate landscape paintings executed on the eyelids and nipples of court ladies.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Magic, dark fantasy and enchantment provide the recurrent atmosphere and literary mode of this collection of seven stories by the author of Portrait of a Romantic, the first, ``August Eschenburg,'' of novella length. In the title narrative, a 12-year-old leaves the brilliant sunlight of the ``real'' world to enter a penny arcade he dimly recalls from his childhood. He is in search of ``an overwhelming secret . . . something mysterious and elusive that I could scarcely name.'' But the mechanical gunslinging cowboy proves a creaking, absurd figure and the fortune teller a decayed ruin. The endless disrobing of the nickelodeon woman can still reveal inexhaustible secrets. Then once again the glory fades and the boy concludes that only faith, if it can be retrieved, will restore the wonder that once was. In another tale, an adolescent girl undergoes a series of mysterious changes on the jagged path to self-knowledge; and ``Cathay'' is a series of magical vignettes situated in an enchanted land of marvelous transformations and exotic rituals. While the meaning of the stories can be willfully enigmatic and the writing at times self-conscious and labored, the prose can also be strong and vivid. There can be no doubt of the author's distinctive imaginative gifts, originality and flair. January 6
Library Journal
After a brilliant first novel, Edwin Mullhouse , and a superb second, Portrait of a Romantic , Millhauser follows up with these very fine stories. Themes from the novels recur: childhood innocence and the worlds of imagination and fantasy, the artistic impulse, occasional diappointments of harsh reality. ``August Eschenburg,'' the long first story about an early 19th-century child prodigy and miniaturist, is an outstanding exploration into the worlds of appearances versus reality, as is ``Cathay,'' a tale reminiscent of Borges and Calvino. ``Snowmen'' explores youth and all its wonders, while the title story, with Joyce and Updike echoes, shows us a young boy discovering adolescence. Crafting his fiction in relative obscurity, Millhauser continues to prove himself one of our very best writers and stylists. Highly recommended. Thomas Lavoie, formerly with English Dept., Syracuse Univ., N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564781826
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
03/28/1998
Series:
American Literature (Dalkey Archive) Series
Edition description:
1ST DALKEY
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Steven Millhauser was born in 1943 in New York City, and grew up in Connecticut. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965, and went on to pursue a doctorate in English at Brown University. He never completed his dissertation, but did complete a novel that was eventually published in a pared-down form under the title "From the Realm of Morpheus-as well as Edwin Mullhouse". However, it was for his stories that Millhauser became best known; immaculately written, curiously vivid, they trod on fantastic boards in a manner reminiscent of Poe or Borges, but with a distinctively American voice. After "In the Penny Arcade", Millhauser's collections continued with "The Barnum Museum" (1990), "Little Kingdoms" (1993), and "The Knife Thrower and Other Stories" (1998). Steven Millhauser lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, and teaches at Skidmore College.

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In the Penny Arcade 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading each of Millhauser's short stories is such a treat, such a feast for the imagination, that to describe their greatness using words would never do them justice. Reading Millhauser is an EMOTION- a journey with a character's feelings. IN THE PENNY ARCADE is a lovely collection showcasing Millhauser's genius. AUGUST ESCHENBERG is the first novella and first third of the book- Millhauser's gift of using the English Language is exceptional, and if you haven't found that out yet, read ESCHENBERG. The rest of the stories are, of course, amazing as well.