Over the last thirty years, Steven Millhauser has become one of my favorite stealth storytellers. His writing gained a wider audience when Martin Dressler won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize and in 2008 when Dangerous Laughter was selected as one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the year. In his latest gathering of short fiction, We Others: New and Selected Stories (Knopf, $27.95), Millhauser has assembled his favorites, saying, “I chose stories that seized my attention as if they’d been written by someone whose work I had never seen before.” These fictions straddle the edge of imagination and realism. Millhauser writes about complex human passions, both dark and pure; in his tales even the smallest details carry critical import. Fantastic, magical things happen to his characters, and yet the stories evoke life so realistically that even illusions, phantoms, and supernatural occurrences are completely believable because they are integrated so skillfully into lives that are passionate, intelligent, philosophical, and thoughtful. When such a writer can be surprised by his own writing, you know you’re reading the best.
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