Michael's Reviews > Dangerous Laughter

Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser
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May 12, 09

Read in May, 2009

Having recently watched Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, I was struck by the thematic similarities between the film and several of Millhauser's stories- primarily: The Dome, The Other Town, A Change in Fashion, Here at the Historical Society, and In the Reign of Harad IV. The ideas at the heart of these stories, much like those in the Kaufman film, gradually morph and grow obsessively out of control until they reach epic (or sometimes tiny) proportions. These bizarre evolutionary processes are fascinating, and a lot of fun to read: glass-like domes placed over homes, then neighborhoods, and cities...and finally the world?, a town that builds an exact replica of itself, a designer creates dresses that conceal women completely until it's unclear if anyone is actually inside anymore, historians that document every second of human existence, and a toymaker that creates miniature homes so small they become invisible to the naked eye.

But as much as I liked those stories, my favorite was The Room in the Attic, about a shy young girl that spends most of her time hidden away in her darkened bedroom. The story isn't even told from her point of view, yet her character just came completely alive for me. I wonder about her the same way I wonder about someone that I may have gone to school with and never saw again. Where are they now...
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