Gilbert Rogin Mordecai Richler - Essay

Mordecai Richler

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Mr. Rogin is subtle, original and refreshingly intelligent. Furthermore, his is a literate voice. But having just finished reading his first novel in eight years, "Preparations for the Ascent," I have to say that though I both enjoyed and admired it, and even laughed out loud more than once, I'm not sure I understood it, which is embarrassing, very embarrassing….

There is something … maddening and elusive about "Preparations for the Ascent"—it's not always clear to me where we are or just what is happening right now—but the melancholy voice is so distinctive, charged with such sour wit, that I'd rather be baffled by Gilbert Rogin than read a story made plain by many a more accessible but predictable writer. (p. 6)

Albert, with his distaste for the modern world—its gadgetry, its conundrums, its modish foolery—has a good deal in common with the stunned heroes who wander with such incomparable grace through Walker Percy's splendid novels. Mr. Rogin, a gifted writer, can be exasperating, unnecessarily oblique at times, but the confusions of his novel are more than redeemed by the literary pleasure of the journey itself. (p. 37)

Mordecai Richler, "A Melancholy Journey," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1980 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), March 30, 1980, pp. 6, 37.