Millhauser's book was an interesting read. I must admit, that I'm just generally fascinated by the amazing period of transition that was American at the end of the nineteenth century, which may explain my enthusiasm. Millhauser writes with such an eye for the details of Dressler's visions... but sadly not for his characters.
Millhauser's novel was bereft of any real variety in characters. Harwinton and Arling, as well as the Vernon women don't really offer the diversity of characters that one would expect from NYC at the turn of the century; what about all the immigrants flooding the city, the business giants? I would have thought a Pulitzer winner would have had a much broader scope; Dressler isolated himself in his dream yes, but did the reader have to feel the limitations so keenly?
I'm slightly embarrassed that my problems with a novel made for the bulk of the review; I did enjoy the book, albeit not with my typical enthusiasm. I guess I wish more had been made of Martin's experience, a potential epic, and that's what frustrates me. It's a wonderful story... it just didn't have the surge of emotion to power the determination.
Martin Dressler, Steven Millhauser