Gilbert Rogin

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David Finkle

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[Preparations for the Ascent continues from What Happens Next?, the patchwork saga of Julian Singer, now called Albert.] If the blend of names puts you in mind of Alvy Singer, the hero of the Woody Allen-Marshall Brickman Annie Hall, it probably should, because Rogin's creative itch is similar to Allen's and Brickman's—the need to parse in prose one's own life, the life of the erudite, neurotic Manhattan male, the man who has read everything only to find it hasn't helped much. (p. 38)

If it is true that writers should write about what they know, and if what one knows best is oneself, then Rogin is plumbing the possibilities, suggesting that the most difficult task we face is figuring out how we can know ourselves. This means that while nothing happens in his book in the way of unfolding plot, intrigue and suspense foliate, the intrigue and suspense hanging on the most dire question of them all—how am I going to get through this?…

It's a compendium of fantasies, memories, conjectures of melancholy epigrams and apercus…. Rogin has written a novel of ineffable sadness. (p. 46)

David Finkle, "Rogin Reigns," in The Village Voice (reprinted by permission of The Village Voice; copyright © News Group Publications, Inc., 1980), Vol. XXV, No. 33, August 13-19, 1980, pp. 38, 46.

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Evan Connell