The New Yorker has been so good for so long that it’s not uncommon for the magazine’s forgotten writers to be discovered again. (At Bloomsbury, I publicized Backward Ran Sentences by Wolcott Gibbs, organizing this event at the New School with three Gibbs fans: Mark Singer, Kurt Andersen, and the anthology’s editor Thomas Vinciguerra.) In the new Lowbrow Reader anthology that has just been published by Drag City, founder and editor Jay Ruttenberg included pieces celebrating and written by Gilbert Rogin, now in his early 80’s, the novelist and longtime managing editor of Sports Illustrated. Rogin published over thirty (fiction) stories in The New Yorker, along with three books: a short story collection The Fencing Master (1965) and two novels, What Happens Next? (1971) and Preparations for the Ascent (1980). John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and Mordecai Richler were all fans of Rogin’s work, and in the Lowbrow Reader essay “Hidden Citizen: Rediscovering the Brilliant, Funny Novels of Gilbert Rogin,” Jay Jennings writes:
Read today, Rogin’s books seem fresh, the author possessed of a turn-of-the- 21st century comic sensibility more than a fundamentally Jewish one similar to his peers from the 1960’s and 1970s….the criticisms above – that Rogin is merely recording movements or that nothing changes in his books – are identical to descriptions of Seinfeld.
Rogin’s two novels were reissued by Verse Chorus Press as a single edition in 2010, featuring Jennings’s excellent piece as the introduction.