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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (edició 1997)
de Steven Millhauser (Autor)
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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer de Steven Millhauser
» 7 més
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Enjoyed the beginning journey of Martin on his life quest of betterment.....his bold, fearless willingness to plunge, and deeply i might add, into entrepreneurial endeavors, most of which were rather successful, allowing him to continue his 'upward' journey. Just lots of hard work, dedication, grit, courage, & of course, funds he was able to have at his disposal. But as he matured, his judge of character seemed to waver....especially where women were concerned. His obsession with Caroline seemed ridiculous to me from the start, and it became almost as absurd a she herself. That absurdity began to eat away at the believability quotient. It was also at this point that the story began to wonder into 'disbelief' territory. So, the longer the book went, the less i cared for anything that happened. The striking detail crammed into delightfully short chapters was great, and Martin's rise was initially interesting and i was totally on his side.....but then........well.......3 stars is somewhat generous for me for this. Pulitzer Prize? That is a surprise....but some years, the choices are not as good as others. I'll be interested to now read what everyone else thinks.
I knew that I needed to write this review soon as the characters, plot and my reading experience would quickly drift from memory. There was simply nothing in this novel that resonated with me, when in fact it should have. I believe in individuals having big dreams and pursuing those dreams with heart and mind fully engaged. Martin Dressler was one of those dreamers, but I never cared about Martin or his dream. I never believed Martin cared about his dream. And so, I could never care much about the story of Martin and his dreams.
Martin Dressler is a turn-of-the-century New York City entrepreneur who begins in his father's cigar store but dreams of a bigger empire. That dream shapes into a series of large hotels. At first, Dressler's seems the archetypal American success story, but he does not quite grasp the future. The Manhattan of fabled skyline is about to take shape just over the horizon, but Dressler cannot see it.
Crafted with great skill and attention to detail, often to dizzying effect. I didn't enjoy the main character's journey much, though.
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Finalist Young Martin Dressler begins his career as an industrious helper in his father's cigar store. In the course of his restless young manhood, he makes a swift and eventful rise to the top, accompanied by two sisters--one a dreamlike shadow, the other a worldly business partner. As the eponymous Martin's vision becomes bolder and bolder he walks a haunted line between fantasy and reality, madness and ambition, art and industry, a sense of doom builds piece-by-hypnotic piece until this mesmerizing journey into the heart of an American dreamer reaches its bitter-sweet conclusion.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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From these humble beginnings, Martin makes his way in the New York in the 1890s, earning astonishing success, even as a teenager. Through clever anticipation of customers’ wants, constant willingness to revise his approach, and an innate grasp of what constitutes service, young Martin constructs an empire. He learns how to tap into expectations and, later, to create them.
Millhauser excels at presenting New York, a city under rapid expansion, so that it appears almost like a child learning to walk and talk, and from whom we anticipate great things. Everyone has an idea, it seems, as though entrepreneurs stand on every corner, awaiting their chance at the big time. Consequently, though Martin may seem larger than life, he fits right in, except that he thinks more boldly than most.
He personifies several themes, one of which involves fascination with modern technology, which promises to make daily life easier, alongside a contradictory desire to remain in the past, anchored to what people already know. Accordingly, architecture and decorative styles figure heavily, and the author details them down to the smallest brick. His people hunger for the newness and their ability to possess it, yet fear what they might have lost, leaving behind what they grew up with.
I admire Millhauser’s finely wrought depiction of these changes, which feel both exterior and personal. Martin Dressler won the Pulitzer Prize and has been rightly celebrated for its prose and descriptive marvels, making the New York of bygone years into a character. I also like Millhauser’s deft, subtle touch, in which he plumbs nascent, unexpressed desires, followed often by rapid, impulsive action. You never know quite what to expect — for the first half of the novel, anyway — which keeps the pages turning.
However, the narrative depends entirely on one character, and Martin grows tiresome. In the beginning, you want him to break his restraints, venture out on his own, find his fortune. But nothing ever satisfies him, and he doesn’t know why, nor does he bother to think about it, much. That may be true to life, especially for someone who grew up with nothing but work and duty.
But past a certain point, there’s a diminishing return. As Martin grows ever grander in his visions, longing to create something so splendid, even he’ll be happy, you know what will result. You also know that in courting a particular woman — and what a bizarre courtship — he’s heading for trouble. Where the first half of the narrative feels volatile, the second half settles into predictability.
More significantly, Martin’s the only character whose inner life comes across, and success erodes his appeal, which leaves the reader nowhere to go. Our hero talks only of his business plans, get easily annoyed if anyone criticizes them, and seems to understand, or want to understand, people only in relation to himself. A narcissist, in other words, bent on greater and greater grandiosity. In keeping with that portrait, there are only so many descriptions of decorative garishness that I can take, so I wound up flipping through some of them.
Martin Dressler the novel is beautifully written and evocative, but Martin Dressler the man is hard to approach, full of much, yet empty. I think that’s the point, and it comes with no surprise. ( )