Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1997.
Young Martin Dressler begins his career as an industrious helper in his father’s cigar store. In the course of his restless young manhood, he makes a swift and eventful rise to the top, accompanied by two sisters—one a dreamlike shadow, the other a worldly business partner. As the eponymous Martin’s vision becomes bolder and bolder he walks a haunted line between fantasy and reality, madness and ambition, art and industry, a sense of doom builds piece-by-hypnotic piece until this mesmerizing journey into the heart of an American dreamer reaches its bitter-sweet conclusion.
The Manikin is not a mannequin, but the curious estate of Henry Craxton, Sr. in a rural western New York State. Dubbed the “Henry Ford of Natural History,” by 1917 Craxton has become America’s preeminent taxidermist. Into this magic box of a world—filled with eerily inanimate gibbons and bats, owls and peacocks, quetzals and crocodiles—wanders young Peg Griswood, daughter of Craxton’s newest housekeeper. Part coming-of-age story, part gothic mystery, and part exploration of the intimate embrace between art and life, The Manikin is compulsively readable and beautifully written.
Ursula Le Guin, the much-honored author of 16 novels, 80 short stories, 10 books for children, several volumes of poetry, and numerous screenplays once again demonstrates her virtuosity and versatility in this superb collection of short stories. Written over a span of 12 years, and previously published in such prestigious publications as The New Yorker, Harpers, Omni, and Playboy, these stories are connected in the way they approach reality while diffusing the traditional boundaries of realism, magical realism, and surrealism. In each, Le Guin finds the detail that reveals the strange in everyday life, or the unexpected depths of an ordinary person. Written with wit, zest, and a passionate sense of human frailty and toughness, Unlocking the Air and Other Stories is superb fiction by a beloved storyteller at the height of her power.