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.