Dalkey Archive Press brings back into print Millhauser's classic and acclaimed stories in their American Literature series. The imagery alone is stunning, but coupled with Millhauser's insights into human flights and foibles, these fictions hold both truth and a surreal, disturbing beauty.
Surely novelist Kirsten Bakis (Lives of the Monster Dogs) and Millhauser in his story "August Eschenburg" had the same dream the same night about their characters. Both are named August, both are creators, and both must confront the troubling issues between what is human and what is humanlike. August Eschenburg creates automatons with such art that they appear to be alive--for very brief performances. His art is copied and subverted by Hausenstein, who builds what the audiences seem to want: automatons whose sexual characteristics are grossly exaggerated in huge rolling hips, leering faces, and large breasts. Art falls prey to popular entertainment when August's benefactor dumps him for--you guessed it--the rosier robot. Like Kafka's "Hunger Artist," August as artist will be drawn back to his art by an urge stronger than mere economics, an urge that applies to artists such as independent press publishers as well! After the success of his first novels (Edwin Mullhouse and Portrait of a Romantic), Steven Millhauser went on to enchant critics and readers with two short story collections that captured the magic and beauty of his longer works in vivid miniature.
The seven stories of In the Penny Arcade blend the real and the fantastic in a seductive mix that illuminates the full range of the author's gifts, from the story of "August Eschenburg," 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.
|Book:||In The Penny Arcade: Stories (American Literature Series)|
|Publisher:||Dalkey Archive Press|
|Number of Pages:||176|
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