From the Wall Street Journal:

“Perhaps the best of the ‘Best’ is Alex Rose’s ‘Ostracon,’ a story that reflects what Edward O’Brien, the originator of [the Best American Short Stories] series in 1926, called ‘the artist’s power of compelling imaginative persuasion.’ Inspired by his grandmother’s life, Mr. Rose tells the story of an old woman, Katya, who misplaces her glasses—a seemingly prosaic domestic drama, until we realize that Katya has Alzheimer’s. The story is graced with lovely, understated moments—’The muted scent of frost and peat leaks into the living room from the thawing backyard.’

“But the power of the piece is in how closely Mr. Rose brings us to a moment of truth—a house where grandchildren are coming for a Seder but where the cutlery lies unwashed in a kitchen drawer, where the checkbook is in disarray—that captures the pathos of old age.”

From The Review Review:

“In ‘Ostracon’ Alex Rose tells a brilliant story in pieces, snapshots of fact and anecdote that, once pieced together, create a sum far greater than its parts. The story opens with Katya, a Russian Jewish immigrant, looking for her glasses. Over time we learn that this is not merely a case of forgetfulness, but that Katya’s mind is slowly deteriorating from Alzheimer’s. Rose punctuates the small, touching passages of Katya’s worried fumbling with nueroscientific facts, the etymology of words like synapse, the biological appearance of Alzheimer’s—’nerve fibers were gnarled and pasty, synapses were clogged with proteins like a grimy sink drain,’ and brief, searing passages in which Katya’s husband Joe finds irrefutable evidence of her dementia. Also woven through the story are scenes of construction workers in their home. The evident hole in the ceiling, the exposed wires, and the damage to the roof all serve as memorable symbols for a brain’s gradual inability to function.”

From Lobster and Canary:

“[The Musical Illusionist is a] beautifully illustrated and constructed book that mimics, glosses, and plays on Renaissance and Baroque era scientific treatises and cabinets of curiosities.”

From Boing Boing:

“I’m currently reading writer and filmmaker Alex Rose’s The Musical Illusionist and Other Tales ($14.95). It’s one of the most imaginative and unconventional collections I’ve read in years. It’s really fired up my imagination… The book is as beautiful as it is eccentric, with real scientific illustrations, religious art, maps, and cryptographic manuscripts helping to sell the bait and switch of the “truth” where each story begins with the farcical world where each story ends up.”

From Harriet and Leone:

“The stories are housed in the bowels of the city, which is where, the text argues, all these possibilities, the sounds and sights not audible on the city surface, still effect a kind of force on events, on thought. In this way the collection of stories, or “exhibits,” is a means of rendering the thought of thinkers like Borges and Calvino subterranean, of locating their work and its effects in the space below our present activities and busyness. And this is where, to my mind, The Musical Illusionist renders its most shimmering effects and makes its most significant contribution.”

From Book reMarks:

“If you’re looking for something unusual to read, a flight of fancy that will leave you thinking new thoughts and dreaming strange dreams, this is your book.”

From Emerging Writers Network:

“…this has been my favorite book this year.”

From Bookslut:

“…if the idea of jumping on a train and traveling through a museum in book form, catching glimpses of the fantastic as it passes by your window, strikes your fancy, then Rose’s debut collection might be the book you are searching for.”


“Rose’s own book repaginates the world, restores and recounts it in its glorious ambiguities and impossibilities, and is certainly capable of invoking wonder in whatever curious mind slips through the turnstile.”

From The Providence Phoenix:

“Sometimes through engaging language, sometimes through intriguing ruminations, [Rose] gets us to suspend disbelief and transcend ourselves.”

From The Brooklyn Rail:

“Rose vividly and ingeniously rewrites history, like a cartographer redrawing the lines of a city–and imbuing it with the force of his imagination.”

From The Burger:

“…a wealth of imagination plus an encyclopedic knowledge of the world equals endlessly rewarding fictional play.”

From The Village Voice:

“Rose displays… [an] uncanny predilection for masquerading whimsical invention as the most sober of facts.”

From The Weekly Dig:

“Alex Rose has history by the strings. He is a great puppeteer and in his first work of fiction, The Musical Illusionist: And Other Tales, he displays his vast chest full of puppets to the world.”

From Enfuse Magazine:

“Rose writes precise, linguistically rich sentences that seduce the reader with their exotic, uncommon vocabulary and images. His ideas, though complex and tortuously elaborated, nonetheless emerge clearly, leading to surprising revelations and possibilities…”

From The Feminist Review:

“…an absolutely enchanting work of literature.”

From Library Journal:

“A potential cult classic, this utterly original work of fiction is highly recommended…”

From Publishers Weekly:

“Rose’s matter and manner recall Lawrence Weschler’s Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, but Rose has a distinct voice and take on arcana, fictitious and otherwise.”

From Borrowed Times:

“This is a great work of imagination. There’s more here than first appears, and it’s well worth investigating.”


Fantasy Magazine: Interview with Alex Rose, Author of “The Plagiarist”

The Providence Phoenix: Renaissance Man

New England Film: Keeping it Short and Not So Sweet