Books by Fred Rochlin

Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Crude and often nonsensical, these stories of Rochlin's WWII experiences were written as monologues for his one-man show. Now in his 70s, Rochlin, a former B-24 navigator, took a storytelling workshop with Spalding Gray, and this is the result. Noting that the "older I get, the more I remember things that never happened," he tells eight tales of varying credibility and tastelessness. In the title story, Rochlin—nicknamed "Rockets——bails out over Yugoslavia, suffering a fractured jaw and broken ribs. Rescued by partisans, he is, without explanation, cheerfully asked to execute three German prisoners. His only comment: "It didn't take any courage, you just pulled a trigger." His escort for the 400-kilometer stroll back to Italy, the earthy Maruska, following dual bouts of diarrhea, asks, "You think I no beautiful? I don't want to die virgin. Why don't you put your hand on my siski?" Following the first night of "fig-fig," he complained his "hooey was on fire and it started to drip stuff." Several of Rochlin's stories involve a "glamour boy" pilot and the colonel he's discovered in bed with, "in that head-to-toe 69 position . . . Hell, I didn't even know guys did stuff like that." When the pilot is killed, the inebriated, grieving colonel tries to rape Rockets; he fends him off and, with the local priest's help, fixes him up with a gay portrait painter. In another, quite detailed piece, he assists in a drunken cesarean section on a 14-year-old girl. The final entry has him having sex with his uncle's wife, who later tells him how much she loves her husband and "will never betray him." Huh? Perhaps as staged monologues, in Rochlin's voice, these at least have some semblance of believability and sense. Here, they come off as simply careless, pointless, and offensive. Read full book review >