The Barnum Museum is a combination waxworks, masked ball, and circus sideshow masquerading as a collection of short stories. Within its pages, note such sights as: a study of the motives and strategies used by the participants in the game of Clue, including the seduction of Miss Scarlet by Colonel Mustard; the Barnum Museum, a fantastic, monstrous landmark so compelling that an entire town finds its citizens gradually and inexorably disappearing into it; a bored dilettante who constructs an imaginary woman—and loses her to an imaginary man!—and a legendary magician so skilled at sleight-of-hand that he is pursued by police for the crime of erasing the line between the real and the conjured.
Ingeniously written and orchestrated, each exhibit in The Barnum Museum will compel you to continue, each story becoming a lure to the next.
“Imagine a funhouse gallery of fictive techniques and ideas, and you’ll have some sense of these stories (…) ‘A Game of Clue’ delineates the line between strategy and chance in a board game while plotting the relationships among the players. ‘Klassik Komix #1′ is a riotous pop comic version of ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (…) Millhauser’s distinctive mix of stylistic dazzle and erudite wonder will intrigue admirers of his Edwin Mullhouse, In the Penny Arcade and From the Realm of Morpheus” – Library Journal
“‘The Barnum Museum’ is quintessential Millhauser: it exemplifies his interest in microcosms (dioramas, stage shows, dream worlds and so on) that loom into macrocosms, then threaten to rival or even engulf the reality that gave birth to them” – Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times