From the Pulitzer and Story Prize winner: 16 new stories that delve into the secret lives and desires of ordinary people, alongside retellings of myths and legends that highlight the aspirations of the human spirit.
The stories in Millhauser’s spellbinding collection Voices in the Night are anchored by dark human yearnings — for perfection, or excitement, or some ungraspable form of fulfillment. These yearnings have a combustible quality, threatening to consume the towns and minds where a pervasive sense of unease provides the tinder ... Just when you think you recognize a myth, a character, a voice — the familiar tacks toward the strange and unexpected ... In Voices in the Night, Millhauser gives us worlds upon worlds — wistful and warped, comic and chilling — that by story’s end, feel as intimate as our own reflections.
Like much of Millhauser’s fiction, the work contained within this collection is both approachable and elusive, with narratives often opening in familiar settings before utilizing extremes as a means of delving into Millhauser’s preferred matrix of philosophical quandaries. Though the tales presented are diverse in style and content, most are firmly grounded in explorations of potent and often contradictory passions ... An amorphous sense of ennui permeates across many of Millhauser’s plots, but this is frequently counterbalanced by humor, perversion, mania, vanity, and desire ... In each of these stories Millhauser’s tone manages to fluctuate between absurdity, anger, dread, and contemplative thought without ever breaking the flow or mystique of the narrative ... Some of Millhauser’s most potent writing can be found in his humanistic retellings of popular mythologies and legends ... The collection is not only an enjoyable and thought-provoking addition to Millhauser’s oeuvre, but also a lesson on the flexibility of short stories.
Evanescent and bloody, obsessive and meditative, historical and futuristic, dystopian and romantic: Steven Millhauser's brilliant work thrives in the fecund, mucky cracks of human contradictions ... The 16 stories here revise traditional tales, entwine shadows of individual terror and community panic, and dazzle with nimble allegory ... Millhauser's characters seek improvement, order and happiness, usually finding or making trouble in the process ... Millhauser plays fluidly across genre — gothic, horror, hyperrealism, fables — and evokes not only his acknowledged influences, Nabokov and Mann, but also Poe, Calvino, Borges and Millet. In these stories he savors the perverse, morbid and dark.