Off The Beaten Path II: Quotidian Strange and Magic

The Knife Thrower: And Other Stories by Steven Millhauser

I have been wondering how to approach the works of Steven Millhauser.  How can I describe the jewel-like precision of stories like The New Automaton Theatre, or Dream of The Consortium? There is a precise magic of transgression for the sake of beauty and pleasure in these works.  The subtle shadings of the sinister; of a world tilted slightly on its axis of wonder by the characters’ obsessions. And yet, there is childlike wonder in stories like Clair de Lune, a tale about a young boy who finds himself wandering into the night and into a baseball game played by girls dressed as boys. In Sisterhood of the Night, we meet with a group of girls who gather in a park at night to observe silence; a magical condition that threatens the community at large with it’s innocent mystery.  Kafka, Borges and Schulz beg comparison, but in the end, there is only one Steven Millhauser.

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