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The Knife Thrower and Other Stories

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Feats of magic, secret lives, and simulated worlds make these stories sing with scary mystery. Pulitzer Prize winner Millhauser (Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer) describes shadow realities in The Knife Thrower and Other Stories, from a Hawthornesque secret society of pubescent girls who want to be invisible to a futuristic shopping mall with fantastical, ever-expanding departments where customers interact with holographic mannequins. ”As we hurry along the sidewalk,” Millhauser writes, ”we have the absurd sensation that we have entered still another department, composed of ingeniously lifelike streets…in search of a way out.” Although Millhauser’s weakness for enumeration waterlogs a few tales, the sheer volume and intricacy of his imagination is wonderful to behold. B+

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