Meri's Reviews > Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer

Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser
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Feb 18, 09

bookshelves: literature, history

This story is about the quintessential concept that defines American culture: the American dream. Martin Dressler begins the book as a clerk in a cigar store in New York at the dawn of the 20th century. As he watches the city spring up around him, he's filled with ideas of his own on improving the landscape. He starts with a restaurant, which becomes a chain, then moves to hotels. Along the way, he picks up several consumer concepts that are in their infancy, like subliminal advertising campaigns and department stores. While each new project enjoys great success, Martin is filled with the sensation that he wants to make more. His final creation, a sprawling edifice called The Cosmos that resembles Disney World and the Mall of America, strives so hard to be everything that it ends up being nothing. This novel is particularly resonant today as we experience the effects our insatiable appetite for wealth and property.
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