Little Kingdoms

Little Kingdoms

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by Steven Millhauser
     
 

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Cartoons that draw their creator into another world; demonic paintings that exert a sinister influence on our own. Fairy tales that express the secret losses and anxieties of their tellers. These are the elements that Steven Millhauser employs to such marvelous—and often disquieting—effect in Little Kingdoms, a collection whose three novellas…  See more details below

Overview

Cartoons that draw their creator into another world; demonic paintings that exert a sinister influence on our own. Fairy tales that express the secret losses and anxieties of their tellers. These are the elements that Steven Millhauser employs to such marvelous—and often disquieting—effect in Little Kingdoms, a collection whose three novellas suggest magical companion pieces to his acclaimed longer fictions.

In "The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne," a gentle eccentric constructs an elaborate alternate universe that is all the more appealing for being transparently unreal. "The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon" is at once a gothic tale of nightmarish jealousy and a meditation on the human need for exaltation and horror. And "Catalogue of the Exhibition" introduces us to the oeuvre of Edmund Moorash, a Romantic painter who might have been imagined by Nabokov or Poe. Exuberantly inventive, as mysterious as dreams, these novellas will delight, mesmerize, and transport anyone who reads them.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Overlappings of imagination and reality cast magic through these three vividly conceived novellas exploring the ramifications of artistic creation. In ``The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne,'' the eponymous hero, a cartoonist for a New York City newspaper in the 1920s, labors in the study of his Mount Hebron home on a ``secret, exhilarating project'': thousands of numbered ink drawings that will constitute moments of an elaborate animated film. As the world of his art becomes more splendid, the day-to-day reality of his life becomes progressively less rewarding. ``The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon'' juggles familiar motifs of legend--a beautiful, virtuous princess; a jealous prince; a scheming dwarf; a towering castle and subterranean dungeon--in its tale of a town's self-conscious effort to attach a fanciful, folkloric past to its utilitarian present. ``Catalogue of the Exhibition'' fashions a biography of fictional 19th-century painter Edmund Moorash and his intimates from a sequential discussion of his exhibited works. Millhauser ( The Barnum Museum ) evokes the impact of non-verbal art with uncommon ease. He develops each of these stories with such narrative precision and well-chosen detail that even his most fanciful and abstract conceits fully engage the reader. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
These three ingenious novellas confirm Millhauser's status as a master fabulist—an author who displays a fantastic ability to describe in detail objects of his own invention: puppets, circuses, board games, and miniatures. Here, his greatest inventions are the comic strips and animated cartoons of J. Franklin Payne—in a portrait of an artist whose work recalls the career of Winsor McCay. Like McCay, Payne raises the level of popular ephemeral to high art. And Millhauser so effectively creates Payne's inner "kingdom" that we begin to see reality refracted through the artist's peculiar imagination. In the 20's, Payne begins as a midwestern comic-strip artist whose first series on a dime museum earns him a place on a major New York daily, where he contributes editorial cartoons as well. With his wife—a high-brow who never really accepts his art—and daughter, Payne sets up house north of the city, where he spends hours in his studio creating his first animated cartoons. His meticulous craftsmanship results in commercial success, but also the opprobrium of his employer. As Payne begins his masterpiece, he retreats further into his world of artifice, so that by close, reality and fantasy collapse. The "The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon" concerns an actual kingdom, though one that exists in no discernible time or place. It's a cubist re-creation of a Prince's "moral fall" after he gratuitously tests his wife's faithfulness. Full of desire and duplicity, the tale unfolds rather dryly, with a description of possible endings, all of which emphasize a sense of justice and concord. Last, a faux art catalog uses the descriptions of 26 paintings by Edmund Moorash todraw a portrait of a strange genius. In the early 19th-century, Moorash's dark visionary landscapes and portraits fail to equal the bizarre demise of the artist, his sister, and their best friends. There's nothing overly academic about Millhauser's fictional inventions—for every bit of cleverness, there's the art of true passion.

From the Publisher
"Millhauser's writing is dazzling." —David Leavitt, Esquire

"Millhauser makes our world turn amazing!"—The New York Times Book Review

"An American writer of surpassing skill.... He renders the impossible itself with precision." —Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307763884
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/2010
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,154,792
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Steven Millhauser received the Pulitzer Prize for Martin Dressler. He is a recipient of the Lannan Award and has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of Edwin Mullhouse, The Barnum Museum, and The Penny Arcade, among other books, he teaches at Skidmore College and lives with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Little Kingdoms 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BIOS GO HERE. Only princess vanessas bio is here. Rules are below. Princess Vanessa *aka. Aj, nyla, or nessi* Height:5'2 Eyes:blue and purple mixed skin: tan d skinny. Age: 16 1/2 Hair:long and black eith blue tips. Rule1: You must obey the prince, princess, king and queen. Rule2: The only people with magical people is in the royal court. Rule3: The only people with all magical powers is the royals themselves. Rule4: You may not lie, steal, cheat, etc Rule5: BIOS GO HERE. Rule6: no argueing with any of the royal court. Rule 7: have fun