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(09/06/2008) Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser. New York. 1972. Knopf. keywords: Literature America. 306 pages. Jacket design by Alice & Martin Provensen. 0394480090. September 1972.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Steven Millhauser's funny, beautiful, and magically illuminative novel of childhood is cast in the form of a dead-serious, indeed major, biography. It is the Definitive Life of a Great American Writer who died when he was eleven, told by his contemporary and lifelong friend It is organized, thanks to Jeffrey's impeccably neat mind, in three sections: The Early Years, The Middle Years, The Late Years. Thus we closely follow Edwin's development from his pre-verbal noises, scrupulously noted by his admiring biographer, through the long devotion to comic books and animated film that so profoundly influenced Edwin's life and works, to the climactic flowering of his literary genius in his remarkable novel, Cartoons. We are made privy to the influence of home and school, to his friendship with the great muralist Edward Penn who disappeared at age seven, to his obsessive love for Rose Dorn - blonde, imperious, impervious to the Valentines, verses, and 43 gifts with which he pursues her. His pained biographer provides, as well, a full account of Edwin's sudden attachment to his violent, almost wordless classmate, Arnold Hasselstrom; And as we enter Edwin's brilliantly productive Late Years, we are shown the sinister series of events leading inescapably to his foreseen death. A satire on biography, a portrait of the artist set entirely in childhood, a vision of childhood as a state of genius--all the elements of Steven Millhauser's wonderful novel work together to charm, to astonish, and to compel a rich rediscovery of the lost moment-to-moment content of childhood.

Steven Millhauser was born in 1943 in New York City and grew up in Connecticut. He received a B. A. from Columbia in 1965. In 1968 he entered the graduate school of Brown University.

 

 

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