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The King in the Treeby Steven Millhauser
Synopses & Reviews
This is the hall. It isn't much of a one, but it does the job. Boots here, umbrellas there. I hate those awful houses, don't you, where the door opens right into the living room. Don’t you? It’s like being introduced to some man at a party who right away throws his arm around your shoulders. No, give me a little distance, thank you, a little formality. I'm all for the slow buildup, the gradual introduction. Of course you have to imagine it without the bookcase. There isn’t a room in the house without a bookcase.
May I take your coat? Oh, I like it. It's perfect. And light as a feather. Wherever did you find it? It’s so hard to know what to wear this time of year, warm one day cold the next. I worry about my jonquils. They came out last week and then wouldn't you know it: snow. Luckily it didn’t stick. It’s a miracle they didn’t die. I’ll just hang it right here, next to mine. It must look very empty to you, all those hangers side by side. Those are my late husband's hats. Funny. One day I cleared out all the coats, all the shoes and galoshes-it just seemed pointless. But I left the hats. I couldn't touch the hats.
This used to be my favorite room. Listen to me Used to be. But that’s the way it is, you know. I don't have a favorite room anymore. Still, I spend most of my time here. Where else would I go? I’m so glad you like it. One thing we always agreed on, my husband and I, was furniture: it had to be comfortable. As Robert put it, no matter how new it was, it had to look sat in. And of course the piano-what's a living room without a piano, I’d like to know. Not that I ever touched it. No, I gave up piano at twelve. Don't know why, really. It’s the sort of thing you later think you regret, without really regretting it. But Robert, now. He quit lessons at fifteen but kept on practicing. He never did like to give anything up.
It's a warm room too. When we bought the place it was a little drafty in winter, but first we insulated and then we replaced those drafty old windows that Robert had to put up every fall. Triple-track: it made a difference, let me tell you. When you close the curtains, in cold weather, it's just as if you’re sealing yourself in. I'd sit on the couch with my feet tucked under, reading, while Robert sat in the chair there, by the bookcase, reading and marking passages. Or we’d talk-you know, thoughts drifting up, turning into words, like, I don't know, like a way of breathing. Sometimes he made a fire in the fireplace-excellent draft. I meant to tell you I had the chimney cleaned only last month. Was that ever a job. You wouldn't believe what was in there. I almost fell over when I saw the bill. But hey, can you blame the poor guy? Anyway. When the fire was going, I’d move to that end of the couch, to be near it. I could feel the heat all along my right side. Sometimes Robert would go over to the piano, if the mood struck him. He never played for anyone except me. This wasn't exactly as romantic as it sounds. He called himself an amateur-harsh word for Robert—said he refused to destroy beautiful things in public. Robert never liked to make mistakes. It upset him. He played for me because he knew I wouldn't mind an occasional wrong note. Or you could say he played for himself and allo
Steven Millhauser received the Pulitzer Prize for Martin Dressler. He is the
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Martin Dressler explores the diverse faces and shapes of love in three novellas--"Revenge," a study of erotic love and betrayal, as well as two works, "An Adventure of Don Juan" and "The King in the Tree," which transform classic fables into original tales of romance. Reprint. 12,500 first printing.
A master of literary transformation, Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Millhauser turns his attention to the transformations of love in these three hypnotic novellas. While ostensibly showing her home to a prospectivebuyer, the narrator of Revenge unfolds an origami-like narrative of betrayal and psychic violence. In An Adventure of Don Juan the legendary seducer seeks out new diversion on anEnglish country estate with devastating results. And the title novella retells the story of Tristan and Ysolt from the agonized perspective of King Mark, a husband who compulsively looks for evidence of hiswife's adultery yet compulsively denies what he finds. Combining enchantment as ancient as Sheherezade's with up-to-the-minute acuity and unease, The King in the Tree is Millhauser athis best.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Steven Millhauser received the Pulitzer Prize for Martin Dressler. He is a recipient of the Lannan Award and has been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author of nine previous books, he teaches at Skidmore College and lives with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Revenge — An adventure of Don Juan — The king in the tree.
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