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    Little Kingdoms

    Preface: the slideshow for the gallery seems to display only part of the scanned pages, for the full text click here

    Steven Millhauser’s Little Kingdoms, first published in 1993, is a compilation of three novellas or short stories.  I’ve scanned excerpts from two of them:  The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne, and The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon.  As in his novel Martin Dressler, Millhauser brings the reader back to Progressive and early Roaring Twenties-Era New York.  Millhauser is a master of describing the characteristics of an object and how it functions, which makes his incorporation of imaginative scenarios all the more believable. The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne, is a heart-wrenching story which follows the life of a passionate and skilled comic strip artist and animator who is exhaustively pouring his energy into the then-new frontier of animation while he contends with grave family matters.  In the scanned pages you will find marvelous descriptions of the fantastical and magical animated films John Payne has created – drawing each frame by hand, working four to six hours a night after he gets back from his day job.  The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon is yet another heart-rendering story which weaves the dark elements of human nature – suspicion, jealously, lust, vengeance – into a fairytale-world of castles, dwarves, and princesses.  Millhauser is a master of empathy.  He is a like an expert psychologist who can enter the mind of any character and lay-out their internal reasoning with incredible persuasion.  One of my favorite passages in the story is this:  Her look, like that of someone frightened in the dark, made the prince taste the full horror of his moral fall, even as it sharpened the sting of his suspicion. 

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