Dangerous Laughter (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Steven Millhauser is an inexhaustibly creative writer whose stories reflect a broad range of interests and a remarkable ability to shift perspective and thus examine the commonplace from a completely uncommon vantage. In Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories, his influences vary from American writers such as Edgar Allan Poe (as shown in “The Room in the Attic”) and John Barth (in “The Disappearance of Elaine Coleman”) to early postmodernists such as Argentine short story writer Jorge Luis Borges (shown by “In the Reign of Harad IV”) and Italian fabulist Italo Calvino (as demonstrated in “The Tower”). The writer’s focus moves from the intensely personal to the philosophically inquisitive and to abstracted ruminations on principles. In the way that some books are considered to be “novels of ideas,” Millhauser (like Borges and Calvino) can be considered a short story writer of ideas. His eclectic and diverse stories demonstrate that Millhauser seems to see things differently than most and to notice things the rest of the world typically overlooks.
Dangerous Laughter is introduced by the story “Cat ’n’ Mouse,” which serves as an appropriate preamble to Millhauser’s postmodern sensibility. The story chronicles the eternal and continuous struggle between a cartoon mouse and his animated feline adversary, reminiscent of the Hanna-Barbera animation studio’s long-running and popular Tom and Jerry...
(The entire section is 1751 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 7 (December 1, 2007): 4.
Kirkus Reviews 76, no. 1 (January 1, 2008): 10.
Library Journal 133, no. 3 (February 15, 2008): 99.
O, The Oprah Magazine 9, no. 3 (March, 2008): 178.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 50 (December 17, 2007): 33.
Review of Contemporary Fiction 28, no. 2 (Summer, 2008): 161-162.
(The entire section is 28 words.)