Lowbrow Reader #7: Gilbert Rogin

Posted by @ 4:14 pm on June 23rd, 2009


Did you know that the imense bones of Orestes, the discovery of which Herodotus relates, are now believed to be those of a prehistoric monster? Of course, the inference is not that Orestes had undergone a metamorphosis in his lifetime, one that was revealed from an examination of his remains; it is rather that the prevalent cult of heroic relics required outsized bones, and conveniently, those of great, lumbering Pleistocene beasts popped up from time to time. More persuasively, it was the other way round, as it often is, the uncovering of the bones leading to the formation of the cult.

But suppose the bones were Orestes’, that he became aware that he was in the grip of a terrible transformation, and that he was unhinged. Could that explain everything that followed? Something to think about early in the morning when your dad’s ghostly, fluent fingers seem to be accompanying the rain.

Who is Gilbert Rogin, exactly? His books are out of print, but he has had 33 stories published in the New Yorker over the years, was once complimented by Joyce Carol Oates in the Partisan Review, likened (in print) to Bruno Schulz by Updike and for years was managing editor of Sports Illustrated.


Later this week I will ask LR editor Jay Ruttenberg how he rediscovered this crotchety literary gem, met up with him and then got Rogin to write in his modest publication. It’s a funny story.

Get your copy of the new Lowbrow Reader here.

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