Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer – Steven Millhauser

Intro

After writing about nonfiction for the last three weeks, this comes to me as a new break. Perhaps I tired myself reading those essays back in college. I also distinctly remember forming a mission inside my head to read all the Pulitzer books that I was able to hoard, and I began that, or rather resumed it, with Martin Dressler.

I resumed my Pulitzer reading with this because of its number of pages. It is not very long. It can actually be read over the weekend if one can just keep his focus. But as it usually happens, I was out of focus for some reason.

Does it have to do with my then busy college life or does it have to do with the book alone?

The Rhapsody

Martin Dressler is simply a rags-to-riches story. Well, it doesn’t strictly end with riches. It’s about this poor boy who amassed a huge lump of fortune in the hotel industry.

The title describes our protagonist as a dreamer. He did dream. Not only did he do that, but he also realized it through effort and cunning. The problem is, he just dreamed too much.

I remember that Martin wanted to build a radical hotel, the hotel of his dreams. He wanted to have thematic rooms. We have heard or seen or even experienced those jungle hotel rooms, outer space hotel rooms, and all those exotic hotel rooms. Martin did that. It was amazing at first, but sales and revenues didn’t indicate that.

The hotel rooms didn’t feel like hotels at all. They just felt different and slightly out of taste.

The five-star hotel tumbled down to four, three, two, until Martin was effaced from the big names of the hotel industry. His fortune, the major part of it going to the construction of his dream exotic hotel, was washed out. But he was happy in the end. I think he was. He was able to make it, right?

I have this vague feeling that he met a tragic end. Of course, I can barely recall it. Did he die? Did he have any regrets? Did he blame himself for falling apart? To future readers of the novel, please take note of these questions.

I also remember that his parents were not with him during the peak of his success. I know he was alone throughout. He was just obsessed with hotels until the hotel industry got him.

So long for our American dreamer.

2 star - it was okFinal Notes

We have always been told that it is okay to dream big dreams. The bigger, the better. And the bigger, the harder and longer it takes for the dream to come true.

But what we haven’t been told is that we should dream right, which contradicts the first advice about dreaming. Big dreams aren’t always necessarily right. Achievable dreams are, loosely, the right dreams. Like dreaming of a better future, with a nice cozy home, a modern car in the garage, a dog wagging his tail at the porch, the smell of dinner cooking, kids at the living room. The epitome of the good life.

But does everyone dream of such a life? I, for one, do not dream of having a car. I just have vague dreams of having a secure future. I dream of a small Japanese inspired house with an awesome library. I even dream of setting up a book store that caters to fiction only, with a nice bar that sells coffee and maybe some sandwiches. I sometimes dream of a dog, a golden retriever or a border collie. I do not dream of a family waiting for me after work because I have always pictured myself doomed to be alone for the rest of my life. But that is a different matter.

So can we blame Martin for dreaming beyond what the society would approve? I don’t think we can. We are all too human to dream, and dreaming is a sure sign of one’s being a human. No one can take it from anyone to dream whatever it is that he wants to dream. If he wants this weird hotel, fine, let him build it. Let him achieve it and let him suffer the consequences after.

Stuff that dreams are made of? You tell me.