THE KING IN THE TREE (2003) These three novellas share one set of themes -- desire gone haywire and the tortures of jealousy. Millhauser, who won the Pulitzer Prize for 1996's… 2003-02-18 Fiction
Book Review

THE KING IN THE TREE (2003)

EW's GRADE
B

Details Release Date: Feb 18, 2003; Writer: Steven Milhauser; Genre: Fiction

These three novellas share one set of themes -- desire gone haywire and the tortures of jealousy. Millhauser, who won the Pulitzer Prize for 1996's Martin Dressler, devises the first and best, ''Revenge,'' as a monologue: A woman gives her husband's mistress a tour of the home she wrecked and the reader an inventory of her haunted head. ''I do hope I'm not sounding histrionic,'' she says. But of course she is, and her unhinged rhythms give the piece a nerve-racking energy. In comparison, ''An Adventure of Don Juan'' and ''The King in the Tree'' (about mythical lovers Tristan and Iseult) are static fables, too stiff to be seductive.

Originally posted Mar 14, 2003 Published in issue #700 Mar 14, 2003 Order article reprints