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We Others: New and Selected Stories

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  795 ratings  ·  114 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 da
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Knopf (first published February 9th 2009)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  795 ratings  ·  114 reviews


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Racquel
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Ben Loory
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Came back and upped this from 4 stars to 5 because I have never stopped thinking about it in all the months since I read it. At the time, I was a bit put off by the slowness, but in retrospect it had the effect of burning every image and moment deep into my brain.

Favorites:
"The Slap"
"The White Glove"
"The Next Thing"
"We Others"
"Eisenheim the Illusionist"
"Cat 'n' Mouse"
and especially
"The Wizard of West Orange"

What must the stones th/>What
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John
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
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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, t
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Joe
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kathy
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012-bc
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
Mattschratz
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jodie
Feb 25, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
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Joe Sacksteder
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Amy
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Millhauser provides a wonderful collection of restrained storytelling just on the edge of fantasy. He manages to make a childhood trip to the lake, a slap, the ending of a relationship, and a random disappearance fantastical. He toys with things like touch and words, until they're morphed into something of magic and unfamiliarity.

Each story isn't overwhelmed with the fantastical, but it often shows up halfway through or after, and much of the time, it has to do with feelings, intuition. It was
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angie
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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Maya Lang
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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." The first, "The Slap," was one of my favorites and is masterful. 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.
Tim Hainley
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed several of these, but have determined that consuming Millhauser's short stories in succession decreases my enjoyment of them, turning their reading increasingly into a chore. And this is a particularly extensive compilation.
Jaclyn
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This story is perfect in what it tried to accomplish. It's always fascinating to see a feeling or thought you've had explained so accurately by another person. "You are not alone. I think this, too."
Cathy Moody
Dec 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jacqueline Boss
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Clearly Millhauser is a talented writer, but for sheer enjoyability, I can't give this more than a 3. My favorite stories were The Next Thing, a dystopian tale that brings to mind Walmart and Amazon, and the Eight Voyage of Sinbad, which was descriptive and colorful and makes me want to read the Arabian Nights.

The way women were written into the stories was very uncomfortable; it was strange because although the women are almost always props and sex objects and are described in a gross, creepy
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Joseph
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love some, but not all, of Millhauser's work. Of the stories that were new to this volume, "The Slap" is the best. Of the selected older stories, the ones from the "Dangerous Laughter" and "Barnum Museum" collections were all fantastic.
Cooper Wilms
There are some phenomenal surreal stories that caught my imagination and brought it to places I never thought it could go. Then there are stories that drag on and fall flat. There is no middle ground.
David Rice
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A true hall of wonders and mysteries -- moving and strange in equal measure. Favorites include, "A Visit," "Clair de Lune," "The Barnum Museum," "The Knife Thrower," and of course, "Eisenheim The Illusionist." The best single Millhauser book out there.
Candy Greenway
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I agree with others who reviewed this book on Goodreads. It started off strong and faded away until the end. The first couple of stories are astounding.
Coleman
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Slap is a great story. Also liked Claire de lune. A little too much detail and description for my taste in some of these stories.
Trish Graboske
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Millhauser is absorbed by carrying things to extremes: group hysterics, disturbing obsessions, automatons, magic illusions, machines to expand the senses. Dreamlike underground cities expand into the distance, become more detailed, absorb people who never return.
Michael Kling
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
My reactions to the individual stories in this collection were more polarized than most short story collections I've read. The ones I liked I *really* liked (The Next Thing, August Eschenburg, The Barnum Museum, The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, Eisenheim the Illusionist, The Knife Thrower and Cat 'n' Mouse were my favorites).

That said, some of the others read less like stories and more like vignettes (People of the Book, Protest Against the Sun, Snowmen). Among these I did feel a lot of
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Jarret Lovell
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the strongest, most thought-provoking and enjoyable stories collections I've read in some time. I knew nothing of Millhauser when I picked up this collection, but for me he quickly became an author I admire, and one I will continue to seek out.

Warning: Possible Spoilers

The stories in this collection work so well together, many sharing similar themes of our fascination with tragedy, with violence, or with the unknown. On some level, readers may find themes of stories t
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Dan Schiff
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
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 o
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Casey Hampton
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Millhauser's talent to foster nostalgia even when it can't exist in the reader is, for me, exhilarating and tireless.

This conjures similar feels to the old (does this mean I'm old, too?) weekly television program The Wonder Years, in that it wasn't really about the 60s, but rather framing the 60s anchored in an 80s recollected vibe before the 90s busted the gates wide. It's not just seeing a reflection in a secondary mirror, but a third and forth mirror angled to the original, which furthers fa
...more
Jonathan
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I made the mistake of reading this collection of Millhauser's stories immediately after another collection of his, Dangerous Laughter. This was a mistake only because this collection borrows liberally from that one, so when I thought I had more stories, I actually only had stories which I had already read in a different book.

Another reason this was a mistake is that after enough repetitions Millhauser's short fiction begins to feel formulaic in pieces. He has a steampunk-like obsession with art and perf
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Josh
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 k
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David Gallin-Parisi
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The first stories I've read by Millhauser. His newest stories remind me of the best suburban mysteries, similar to Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. If you've ever looked for a similar vibe, check the newest stories in this book. Weary and extraordinary happenings. The rest of the stories take events to the max. People make, build, and create things to a maximum level. And make things with a strange exertion. Characters get tired in these stories, becoming fascinatingly irritated, obsessed, and dr ...more
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Millhauser was born in New York City, grew up in Connecticut, and earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965. He then pursued a doctorate in English at Brown University. He never completed his dissertation but wrote parts of Edwin Mullhouse and From the Realm of Morpheus in two separate stays at Brown. Between times at the university, he wrote Portrait of a Romantic at his parents' house in Co ...more
“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.” 6 likes
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