We Others: New and Selected Stories
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We Others: New and Selected Stories

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  405 ratings  ·  73 reviews
“Every reader knows of writers who are like secrets one wants to keep, and whose books one wants to tell the world about. Millhauser is mine.”
—David Rollow, Boston Sunday Globe

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author: the essential stories across three decades that showcase his indomitable imagination.
Steven Millhauser’s fiction has consistently, and to dazzling effect, diss...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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Racquel
My first brush with Millhauser. He writes with such exquisite precision, I almost have the sense that he holds each phrase up to the light, turning it back and forth to look at it from all directions, then wielding it to refashion even the most mundane tale into something fanciful, thought-provoking, sympathetic, troubling. He makes us remember what it felt like to think profound thoughts when we were still too young to understand them fully. Then, through his mature eyes, he forces us to revisi...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I never know what to expect when I read the short stories of an author for the first time. Will they have twist endings? Will they be bizarre? Will nothing happen?

Millhauser was a pleasant surprise. He writes with an imagined nostalgia, for things that never really existed, like magic carpets and intricately carved snow people. Some of the stories are more about the magic found in the mundane, like the time between when you get to the ocean and you first stick a toe in, and these were my favori...more
Chad Walker
Here's something I admire: Millhauser's singularity of purpose, thematically. He has a few basic obsessions - illusion v. reality, the way words distort or mask perception, and the ways our identities can be disturbed by an uncanny element within the everyday - and he explores them in a bunch of different ways. Also, his writing is extremely evocative on a sensory level. At his best, he is brilliant; at his worst, he is working towards something new, but not quite there yet.

So yes, there is some...more
John
May 08, 2012 John rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to John by: Meg
This book started strong for me. I liked the stories and they seemed to have interweaving themes. But soon the themes seemed too much the same, like often Millhauser was telling the same story only changing the setting and elements. By the end of the book too many of the stories seemed to follow similar molds. Stories seem to start out with a fanciful idea: magician, snowmen, knife throwing, etc. The performance builds to the point of unrivaled extreme, then crashes. Many of the stories fit this...more
Mattschratz
Wittgenstein says, in the Investigations: "What *we* do is return words from their metaphysical to their everyday use." You think through a lot of the words in that sentence before you think about the "we"; it is possible that, if limning of special genius must be provided, the special genius of Steven Millhauser is to think "we" first, and more powerfully, than any other writer that I've ever seen. In the new stories, there is the "we" of the communities witnessing "The Slap" or "The Invasion f...more
angie
This is an absolutely stunning collection of stories, especially "Tales of Darkness and The Unknown: Vol. XIV: The White Glove" (or more simply, "The White Glove.") It's not just the impressive, understated style but the underlying emotions and the beauty of what Steven Millhauser has to say.

"The White Glove" is a perfect example of Millhauser's wonderful writing and the story pulled me in right from the start:

"In senior year of high school I became friends with Emily Hohn. It happened quickly...more
Jodie
Mar 02, 2012 Jodie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
A collection of short stories are so hard to rate, some you love, some you like, and some you don't as much. It almost seems pointless to give it a rating, especially just in the middle. So this rating says more about me than the work.

Taken as a whole these stories are hard to get through. Picking it up and reading one here and there is the way to go. But I do like to sink my teeth into a story, read it cover to cover, indulgently. I found that really hard in this collection.

The writing is wonde...more
Cathy Moody
This was hard to rate, I loved the writing, liked a lot of the stories but didn't like the book.
These stories were meant to be read individually and lost impact read one after another.
Josh
Not a review, just quotes:

"Matthew had his own theory, which he sometimes believed: that everyone had a secret, a shameful thing they had done, and the reason they feared the stranger was that he made them remember that thing. He himself, for example, had done some things in college he'd rather forget. He stepped up to his car, bent over to glance through the window-- one of his ideas was that the stranger concealed himself in parked cars, which he knew how to open-- and placed his key in the do...more
Kathy
I think this collection of stories would be best read a little at a time, over a long period of time—the themes and tone are all so similar. Starting out, I found the ideas fresh and interesting, but after about the fifth story (and there are 21), I was getting really annoyed at how similar everything sounded, and then I started skimming, which is too bad, because many of the stories are well-written and insightful. Here’s what I had to say about each story as I finished (you can see the deterio...more
Tanya Patrice
It took me a long time to get through this book - putting it down ever so often in favor of other, faster reads. There is quite a wide range of diversity to the stories, which I quite liked - many are memorable, a lot are quite dark (which I loved), but a few left me scratching my head thinking, "huh?!" The 1st section of the book has 7 new stories - all of which I liked - but my favorites are, The Slap, where an unknown assailant goes around slapping unsuspecting, seemingly random people; and T...more
Dan Schiff
I went into this collection having read Martin Dressler and really liking it. Several of the stories in We Others are cut from the same cloth: detached characters in whimsical scenarios. His stories are eminently readable and his prose is precise and down-to-earth, but I found myself growing tired of some repeated elements and his unchanging tone.

"The Next Thing" shows Millhauser's dehumanizing qualities at their best, as he satirizes capitalism and human "progress." There is an element of Marti...more
Joe Sacksteder
I stole this opinion from my brother in law... and Fitzgerald, who said that most writers only have a few good ideas and they spend their careers dressing them up in different ways. Millhauser's stories fall immediately into one of several slots. With his least impressive writing ("Flying Carpets" and the eponymous novella in this collection) the slots feel overly comfortable. A rehashing. "We Others" should have been titled "Why Bother"? It was a total snooze. With his boldest stuff ("The Histo...more
Chris Poole
Millhauser plays a lot with a mixing of the fantastic-and-mundane, which is just the sort of thing I most enjoy, and I believe he shines best when he explores the lives and works of peculiar artists. He paints their creations and attitudes towards art in loving detail, and it is artists like August Eschenburg and Eisenheim the Illusionist who linger longest and in full glory after the reading. These protagonists' titular stories as well as "The Slap," "The Barnum Museum," "The Eighth Voyage of S...more
Jamey
This was my first time reading anything by Millhauser. I got through most of the stories and most of them were enjoyable. I think the collection is too long, or the author gets to be too much, or both. The stories that are set in a vague contemporary time and places are often the best--"The Slap" and "The White Glove" (I think those are the names)stood out as haunting dissections of things in life that disturb us in ways that are hard to put a finger on. And they rip--mini page turners, so good....more
John
If you have never read Millhauser, then this is the collection. It includes seven new stories and selections from all of his previous collecitons, even In the Penny Arcade. It includes some of his best stories, including the inspiration for the movie The Illusionist.

But, if you were hoping for a new collection of short stories, this is not it. It's a greatest hits with new material. Not that that's bad, it makes a great gift to get people hooked on the writing, but this collection is only about...more
Dan
This was my first introduction to Millhauser's work. It's a great collection that has some new stories and some of the author's personal favorites from past collections. If you've seen The Illusionist, Millhauser's short story inspired the movie. And most of his stories deal with illusions or create them, in a way. He draws you in to some strange world, and half-way through the story, by some unseen sleight of hand, you're utterly convinced of the magic you find there. Not all of these stories i...more
Rick
Not since Kafka have I encountered a short story writer with so many unforgettable works. We have all read "collected stories" compilations and later reread the contents and thought, I have absolutely no memory of this. In this case, it is the newer stories that are and will remain memorable for me. The "invasion from outer space" that is the most plausible of all such tales; the "white glove" that conceals a chilling secret; "slap," that convincingly describes how paranoia spreads through a pop...more
Smith Abbott
Odd and disturbing and thrilling and always exquisitely wrought short stories. This (re)collection contains "The Next Thing." There is no more perfect artistic response to Walmart specifically, and to the stealing of the light that is the corporation generally, than Steven Millhauser's "The Next Thing." It is not correct to describe Millhauser's arcane tales as "Kafkaesque." But it is true that Kafka and to some extent Borges and Nabokov are made resonant by Millhauser. "The Next Thing" was publ...more
Joe
I'm not sure how I missed Millhauser. I feel like I should have heard of him or come across his work at some point in my life...and I'm kinda bummed I didn't because he's got tons of skill. This collection of old and new work was my introduction to Millhauser so I'm not too sure how it compares to his career, but this collection has some truly great stuff. The first story in the book (about a stranger who slaps random people) was absolutely stunning...worth reading just for the few paragraphs di...more
Mark Dickson
It should be noted that this is largely a collection of previously collected work. My rating is based solely on the new work, which is generally really great--totally on par with the work on Dangerous Laughter. By a lucky coincidence, in fact, I'd only read the stories from Dangerous Laughter, so this was largely new work for me. For folks new to Millhauser, this would be a great starting place. For seasoned MIllhauser fans, this will be a frustration--the new stories are undoubtedly worth readi...more
Brianne
I really liked this book. But the stories were so complete that I struggled to move on after I'd finished each individual story. Some of them were absolutely awesome, I'd started reading it because my favorite movie is "the Illusionist" and the Illusionist is based of the short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist." That story was good, not quite what I expected, very different from the movie. But some of the other stories were even better. Some of my favorites were: The Barnum Museum, August Eschen...more
Amanda
One of Millhauser's narrators decides that "words hide the world." In this volume, words seem to make the world instead...very little action outside the description that's invisioned/played out by various narrators, and some of the finer points seem to be lost in what's described as "cooly elegant prose." Fiction should be about words too, but the writing itself shouldn't distract me from taking something away, from feeling something for the stories.
Larry
I started reading this on a whim, no reviews or recommendations. I am blown away. The Slap has stayed with me for days. Getting Closer and Snowmen are genius. The White Glove...I might need some therapy to get through it. And I'm not done yet. Every story treads on the border between real and surreal, much more firmly rooted than a Saunders style story, so you aren't sure how to take it till it socks you...so far, they've all socked me.
Maya Lang
There are a handful of stories in this collection that make you want to call up everyone you know and say, "You have to read this immediately." The first, "The Slap," was one of my favorites. Some were strange and disorienting, similar to "Twilight Zone" episodes (or maybe like a fun-house mirror), where reality gets toyed with just a little bit. Others were arresting without being quite as far-fetched. All were intriguing.
Bill Gordon
To whom shall I compare Steven Millhauser? Poe? Ray Bradbury? Rod Serling? Borges? This is easily one of the best books I've ever read. The flawless beauty of his writing style matches the eeriness and originality of his story ideas. I want to buy dozens of copies of "We Others" and give them to friends, donate them to libraries, leave them on trains and buses. If you love reading, read this book.
Andrew Bernstein
Hard to rate. Some fantastic, if not incredible stories in this collectio As the other reviews state, however, it felt a little long and occasionaly thematically repetetive. Some of these stories, such as "White Glove" were nearly perfect and others may have held more allure if I had read them spaced over more time.

An odd case where the whole is less than sum of the parts.
Gurldoggie
There was a lot to like in this book - a reader has to be impressed with the range of Millhauser's imagination. However, you probably shouldn't read all the stories at the same time. The tone and language is just too similar from one to the next, and what would have been startling as a single story becomes a bit more predictable by the 7th. Still, a good collection without a single dud.
Kim G
Sep 10, 2011 Kim G rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
The new stories are a bit uneven, yes. But The Slap! Oh, The Slap, why are you so good? (We Others too, I am starry-eyed in love with, just silly in love.) And it's always a pleasure to re-read some Millhauser, and I like the way that this collection was assembled, it brings out some really interesting underlying themes.
Deborah
Mr. Millhauser is a fantastic writer. Some of these short stories can be held up as examples of a well executed short work of fiction. That said, I didn't give this book five stars because there were several short stories that were well written but dull in comparison to the title stories and some of the other ones.
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Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer Dangerous Laughter Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright The Knife Thrower and Other Stories The Barnum Museum

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“We others are not like you. We are more prickly, more jittery, more restless, more secretive, more desperate, more cowardly, more bold. We live at the edges of ourselves, not in the middle places. We leave that to you.” 2 likes
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