Rose Theatreby Gilbert Sorrentino
Rose Theatre is the second book of the Sorrentino trilogy, the first book of which, Odd Number, was published in 1985. Odd Number investigated the ways in which "facts" assert themselves through the various encodings of experience contained in the answers to a rigidly circumscribed set of questions; i.e., the answers, whether colored by prejudice, opinion, distortions both conscious and unconscious, or presented as objective retorts based upon absolute data, reveal themselves as wholly incapable of telling anything that might be construed as the truth. As the book progresses, all is contradicted, refuted, thrown into turmoil.
Rose Theatre, concentrating on data already posited, plus new data, endeavors to "correct" the errors of Odd Number. Everything is filtered through the experiences attendant upon the lives of the major female characters of the first book, yet as we read we discover that the new information has no authority to dispel the data given therein. Rather, Rose Theatre, in its desire to stabilize and clarify, adds new and unsettling material to that which we already possess.
By turns, both deeply sinister and wildly comic, Rose Theatre continues Sorrentino's assault on the idea of realism in fiction, culminating here in a world that is in every way as mysterious, beguiling, and filled with contradictions as the one we inhabit each day.
"Gilbert Sorrentino has long been one of our most intelligent and daring writers. . . . But he is also one of our funniest writers, given to Joycean flights of wordplay, punning, list-making, vulgarity and relentless self-commentary." (Robert Cohen, New York Times Book Review 12-20-87)
"Sorrentino's ear for dialects and metaphor is perfect: his creations, however brief their presence, are vivid, and much of his writing is very funny and clever, piled with allusions." (Washington Post Book World 12-13-87)
"Sorrentino's fiction does not reveal a world of sense, of reason, but portrays with equal brilliance our fall into nonsense, into the Babel of our everyday lives." (Douglas Messerli, Los Angeles Times Book Review 12-6-87)
"The Joyce-enthralled Sorrentino is a talented, clever writer with a nose for the messy lives of some contemporary types squatting on the margins of the arts, and for the telltale detail." (Publishers Weekly 10-9-87)
"A refreshing and rewarding visit with one of the most creative writers publishing today." (Library Journal 11-15-87)
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