Website:Steven Millhauser on Wikipedia
Stephen Millhauser is the author of five
previous collections of short stories and five novels, including the
Pulitzer Prize winning Martin
Dressler. His story Eisenheim the Illusionist,
from his collection The
Barnum Museum, was the basis for the 2006 film The Illusionist.
Millhauser lives in Sarasota Springs, New York, and teaches at Skidmore
Dangerous Laughter: 13 Stories (Alfred A.
Knopf, Feb 2008)
The Knife Thrower and Other Stories
The Barnum Museum (1990)
In the Penny Arcade: Stories (1985)
with Steven Millhauser
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Steven Millhauser: I
wrote the stories over a period of nine years. But I didn’t write only
those stories -- during that period I also wrote four long novellas.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
SM: When I write a
story, I write only that story and think about nothing else. Gradually,
stories accumulate. I begin to imagine a collection. It happens near
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
SM: At the time I
began imagining a collection, I noticed that certain stories formed
natural groups. I enjoyed putting kindred stories together and giving
titles to the groups.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
me, a story is a waking dream that I write down.
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I write, I think only about the story itself, what it needs, what its
ideal shape must be. Later, when it’s all over, I might think about a
reader. I might think: “Would anyone in his right mind want to read
something like this?”
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
SM: Yes. What can’t
you get out of your mind? What haunts you?
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?
SM: People are
buying my books? Please inform my publisher immediately.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
SM:I can’t seem to
stop writing stories.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
SM: The new Tobias Wolff collection; Nice Big American Baby, by Judy Budnitz; and The Collected Tales of Edward Owen Whitelaw.