Tony's Reviews > Martin Dressler: the Tale of an American Dreamer

Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser
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Jan 21, 2009

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Millhauser, Steven. MARTIN DRESSLER: The Tale of an American Dreamer. (1996). ***. After having read a couple of books by this author, I was eagerly looking forward to reading this one – his Pulitzer Prize winner. I was disappointed. Although well-written, the plot was humdrum and uninspired. Martin Dressler, the hero, grew up helping his father in his cigar store in NYC. He gets a chance to move out of the store into a hotel, where he starts out as a bellboy, but rapidly moves up in rank until he is an assistant manager. His dreams require more of him than that, however, and he opens a restaurant. When that is successful, he opens another – and then another. He is successful, but he gets bored. When he learns that the hotel he worked at is for sale, he sells all his restaurants and buys the hotel, remodeling it and reshaping the kinds of services it offers according to his visions of what a hotel should be. It is a great success. Then – guess what – he opens another hotel. This one is even more visionary and contains floors devoted to amusements and vacation-like settings. The settings become more and more fantastic. When this one is successful, he plans the great hotel-not-a-hotel of his dreams. After a while, this all becomes pretty boring. Oh – he does get married, but, unfortunately ends up marrying the wrong sister of a pair, who turns out to be totally uninterested in his dreams and, also unfortunately, totally uninterested in sex. As I say: Into each life, etc. I’m not sure why this novel won a Pulitzer. If you can figure it out, let me know.
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