Beloved for the lens of the strange he places on small town life, Steven Millhauser further reveals in Voices in the Night the darkest parts of our inner selves to brilliant and dazzling effect. Here are stories of wondrously imaginative hyperrealism, stories that pose unforgettably unsettling what-ifs, or that find barely perceivable evils within the safe boundaries of our towns, homes, and even within our bodies.
Here, too, are stories culled from religion and fables: Samuel, who hears the voice of God calling him in the night; a young, pre-enlightenment Buddha, who searches for his purpose in life; Rapunzel and her Prince, who struggle to fit the real world to their dream.
Heightened by magic, the divine, and the uncanny, shot through with sly and winning humor, Voices in the Night seamlessly combines the whimsy and surprise of the familiar with intoxicating fantasies that take us beyond our daily lives, all done with the hallmark sleight of hand and astonishing virtuosity of one of our greatest contemporary storytellers.
Like Fox Mulder, or even Wes Anderson, Millhauser is a delightfully playful truth-seeker who uses factual language not as a definitive descriptior, but as a jumping-off point for fuller understanding.
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Millhauser is also the last writer who’d have a problem with abandoning the laws of physics if he can make a good story out of it.
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“A Voice in the Night” gets much more complex when we factor in section III and its four nights of insomnia. Yes, the Author thinks back to his young self, wondering if that’s how it happened or if, as a writer is wont to do, he is padding the story. But he also considers his old thoughts on what it meant to be a Jew, what it was like living by New York City as its neighborhoods evolved over sixty years, and, importantly, what it means to be called, in his case, as a writer.
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A superb testament to America’s quirkiest short story writer, still on his game.
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It blew the lid off how I had been viewing fiction and storytelling for quite some time without realizing my mental rut. A story can be anything—anything true and compelling. Read it for yourself.
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