The Barnum Museum

The Barnum Museum

Regular price
Sale price
Regular price
Sold out
Unit price
Shipping calculated at checkout.

By Steven Millhauser

ISBN: 9781564781796

Publication Date: 4/5/2014

The Barnum Museum is a combination waxworks, masked ball, and circus sideshow masquerading as a collection of short stories. Within its pages, note such sights as: a study of the motives and strategies used by the participants in the game of Clue, including the seduction of Miss Scarlet by Colonel Mustard; the Barnum Museum, a fantastic, monstrous landmark so compelling that an entire town finds its citizens gradually and inexorably disappearing into it; a bored dilettante who constructs an imaginary woman—and loses her to an imaginary man!—and a legendary magician so skilled at sleight-of-hand that he is pursued by police for the crime of erasing the line between the real and the conjured.

Ingeniously written and orchestrated, each exhibit in The Barnum Museum will compel you to continue, each story becoming a lure to the next.


"Imagine a funhouse gallery of fictive techniques and ideas, and you'll have some sense of these stories (...) 'A Game of Clue' delineates the line between strategy and chance in a board game while plotting the relationships among the players. 'Klassik Komix #1' is a riotous pop comic version of 'The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock' (...) Millhauser's distinctive mix of stylistic dazzle and erudite wonder will intrigue admirers of his Edwin Mullhouse, In the Penny Arcade and From the Realm of Morpheus" —Library Journal

"The Barnum Museum is quintessential Millhauser: it exemplifies his interest in microcosms (dioramas, stage shows, dream worlds and so on) that loom into macrocosms, then threaten to rival or even engulf the reality that gave birth to them" —Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times

Biographical Information

Steven Millhauser was born in 1943 in New York City. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1965, and went on to pursue a doctorate in English at Brown University. He never completed his dissertation. Millhauser became best known for his short stories; immaculately written, curiously vivid, they trod on fantastic boards in a manner reminiscent of Poe or Borges, but with a distinctively American voice. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer. Steven Millhauser taught at Skidmore College for almost thirty years and lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.