Young Martin Dressler begins his career as a 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. His visions grow more and more fantastical as he plans his ultimate creation: the Grand Cosmo, in which he attempts to capture the entire world and its dreams. Accompanied on this journey by two sisters - one a dreamlike shadow, the other a wordly business partner - Martin walks a haunted line between fantasy and reality, madness and ambition, art and industry. The Grand Cosmo is his triumph and his undoing, the bold conclusion to this biography of the twentieth-century notion of progress, this mesmerizing journey to the heart of the American dream.
Steven Millhauser is the author of numerous works of fiction, including Martin Dressler, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1997, and, most recently, Dangerous Laughter, a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year. His work has been translated into fifteen languages, and his story "Eisenheim the Illusionist" was the basis of the 2006 film The Illusionist. He teaches at Skidmore College and lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.