Rogal, Stan 1950- (Stanley William Rogal)

views updated

Rogal, Stan 1950- (Stanley William Rogal)


Born March 5, 1950, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Education: Simon Fraser University, B.A., 1982; York University, M.A., 1988.


Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Actor, director, and poet. Idler Pub, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, ran reading series for ten years; Bald Ego Theatre, Toronto, former cofounder and artistic director; Bulletproof Theatre, Toronto, artistic director. Actor in stage productions, including The Day Room, Sleepers Awake, and Care Naked.


League of Canadian Poets, Playwrights Union.


Poetry award, Toronto Arts Council, 1990; Canada Council grant, 1997; fiction award, Toronto Arts Council, 1998.



Sweet Betsy from Pike, Wolsak & Wynn (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

The Imaginary Museum, ECW (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1993.

Geometry of the Odd, Wolsak & Wynn (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

Lines of Embarkation, Coach House (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

Sub Rosa, Wolsak & Wynn (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, Above/Ground Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

In Search of the Emerald City, Seraphim Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Fabulous Freaks, Wolsak & Wynn (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.


What Passes for Love (short stories), Insomniac Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1996.

Personations (short stories), Exile Editions (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Restless (short stories), Insomniac Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

The Long Drive Home (novel), Insomniac Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

Bafflegab (novel), Insomniac Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Tell Him You're Married (short stories), Insomniac Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Also author of plays, including: (and director) Sunny Boy Recites, produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Blood Suit; (and director) Portrait of Ophelia, Drowned; Orpheus, produced in Toronto; (and director) Gulf, produced in Toronto; (and director) Dick and Dick Do America; and The Threepenny EPIC Cabaret, produced in Toronto. Work represented in anthologies, including The Last Word, Insomniac Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995; Carnival, Insomniac Press, 1996; and Vintage '96, Quarry Press, 1997.


Canadian Stan Rogal works across a broad range of genres, including fiction, poetry, and plays. He began his career as an actor and director in Toronto, Ontario, where he has served as cofounder and artistic director of the Bald Ego Theatre, and was also artistic director of the Bulletproof Theatre. But Rogal's writing expanded beyond theater to include short stories, novels, and poetry collections. His first book, Sweet Betsy from Pike, includes a series of poems that relate to the exploits of a Canadian woman traveling west. His next collection of poems, The Imaginary Museum, was called "a compelling journey through a talented and serious poet's mind" by Canadian Book Review Annual critic Peter Baltensperger. The book drew a qualified response from Books in Canada contributor Margaret Sweatman, who lamented Rogal's alleged "aesthetic posture" but acknowledged his "stylish and courageous language."

Rogal's next effort, What Passes for Love, is a collection of short stories described by Quill & Quire contributor Peter Rudd as "dense sketches." Among the tales in this collection are "Skin Deep," in which a woman, to the consternation of her husband, slowly mutates—body part by body part—into another person; "Home after All," wherein a couple make some surprising discoveries about their apartment; and "A Taste of Apricots," wherein a nameless protagonist reflects on his relationships and his identity. Discussing "A Taste of Apricots" in a Books in Canada interview with Judith Fitzgerald, Rogal acknowledged the story's "dreamlike quality, its weirdness." Speaking of the entire volume, Rogal told Fitzgerald: "I wanted to play with different forms, voices, tenses, echoes, and approaches, so I wasn't just writing the same story over and over again. I also wanted to make sure the stories were linked in terms of their thematic coherence." Fitzgerald observed that the stories in What Passes for Love "take issue with adultery, betrayal, passion, obsession …, forgiveness, and the painful paradoxes of pleasure, while blending lyrical substance and a crisp, uncluttered, and often colloquial style with a gritty … approach that belies [Rogal's] disarming propriety concerning what does, in fact, pass for love." Rudd, meanwhile, felt that the various tales "are fun to read," and he characterized Rogal's voice as "immediately familiar and appealing."

The Long Drive Home also relates unlikely events. In this novel two professional killers—both middle-aged, both plagued with exhausting family duties and troublesome prostate glands—and an unscrupulous contractor, whose problems include an alcoholic girlfriend and a moronic daughter, all find themselves conducting various duties in rural French Canada. "Don't be surprised," concluded Booklist reviewer Whitney Scott, "if The Long Drive Home becomes a fine film directed, for course, by [Robert] Altman or [Quentin] Tarantino." Nathaniel George Moore likewise remarked in Half Empty on the novel's suitability for film adaptation, commenting that it is "broken up into almost cinematic styled clips" and has an "almost road movie style."

The same year that The Long Ride Home was published, Rogal also released two poetry collections: Lines of Embarkation and Geometry of the Odd. Moore, in his Half Empty review, compared Lines of Embarkation to Rogal's earlier verse collections and declared that the latter volume "seems a lot more logical and tighter." The critic added that Rogal's poetics "use logic as humour …, taking away the muse, or taking the muse hostage, silencing the predictable nature of the reader to the page, disengaging them from the cinematic spoon-fed familiar traits of language." Devin Crawley, writing for Quill & Quire, remarked that the poems in Geometry of the Odd "reward multiple readings with their subtle, latent imagery and repeated phrases that resonate elegantly." Crawley also felt that "Rogal's intellect bores into the world and manufactures startling conceits."

Rogal's novel Bafflegab is a disjointed work that remarks upon the nature and conditions of writing. Shane Neilson, writing in the Danforth Review, compared it to "a fragmented, dark, antiheroic ramble of a novel—akin to Dostoevsky's ‘Notes from Underground.’" Structurally, the book is less novelistic in form and more similar to a play, complete with dialogue that has been read aloud on a Toronto radio station. Neilson went on to state: "This novel attempts something grand and doesn't achieve it," adding: "It's too easy to skewer the masses, much more difficult to prod them into metamorphosis—and that's what Rogal is trying to do in this novel." The critic did, however, remark upon the musicality and rhythm of Rogal's writing that contributes to the reader's desire to vocalize the dialogue aloud. Stephen Guy-Bray, in a review for Canadian Literature, found the book to be "always interesting, often very funny, and sometimes lyrical."



ARC, Dec 22, 2004, review of Sub Rosa, p. 105.

Booklist, February 1, 1993, review of Sweet Betsy from Pike, p. 52; September 1, 1999, Whitney Scott, review of The Long Drive Home, p. 69.

Books in Canada, April 1, 1994, Margaret Sweatman, review of The Imaginary Museum, p. 48; November 1, 1996, Judith Fitzgerald, "There Really Is Something Called Love," review of What Passes for Love, pp. 15-17; May 1, 2003, review of Tell Him You're Married, p. 18.

Canadian Book Review Annual, January 1, 1994, Peter Baltensperger, review of The Imaginary Museum, p. 218; January 1, 1997, Louise E. Allin, review of What Passes for Love, pp. 212-213; January 1, 1999, review of The Long Drive Home, p. 184; January 1, 2002, review of Bafflegab, p. 180; January 1, 2004, Bert Almon, review of Sub Rosa, p. 244.

Canadian Literature, March 22, 1994, Lesley D. Clement, "Journeys and Returns," review of Sweet Betsy from Pike, p. 141; March 22, 2003, Stephen Guy-Bray, "Short Pieces," review of Bafflegab, pp. 141-142.

Malahat Review, September 22, 2004, Tanis MacDonald, review of Sub Rosa, p. 88.

Matrix, January 1, 2001, review of Bafflegab, pp. 85-86.

Quill & Quire, April 1, 1996, Peter Rudd, review of What Passes for Love, p. 31; October 1, 1999, Devin Crawley, review of Geometry of the Odd, p. 40; December 1, 2000, review of Bafflegab, pp. 27-28.


Canadian Literature, (April 30, 2007), Eva-Marie Kröller, "Faux Fifties," review of Restless.

Danforth Review, (April 30, 2007), Shane Neilson, review of Bafflegab.

Half Empty, (January 16, 2000), Nathaniel George Moore, "Stan Rogal: The Imaginary Muse."

This, (April 30, 2007), Chris Chambers, "Words Are Not Enough," review of In Search of the Emerald City.