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The Rector and the Rogue
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The Rector and the Rogue

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  37 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
It began quietly enough one morning in February 1880, with a mutton-chopped Acme Safe Company salesman knocking on the door of Reverend Morgan Dix, the starchiest clergyman in Manhattan's most respectable church. The salesman was surely misdirected, Reverend Dix explained—he had no need for a safe, and he had not made an appointment. But soon after, used clothes dealers ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by McSweeney's Publishing (first published August 1st 1968)
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Charles Dee Mitchell
Apr 22, 2012 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
W. A. Swanberg was a prolific and respected author who published mostly in the 1950's and '60's. On my own shelves I have his doorstopper biography of Theodore Dreiser, an unread momento of what, several years ago, was going to be my Dreiser period. He also wrote huge biographies of William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce. Citizen Hearst has the distinction of having its Pulitzer Prize revoked by the Pulitzer Committee who did not want to see Joseph Pulitzer's honor going to a book on the life of ...more
May 06, 2013 Amina | PAPER/PLATES rated it it was amazing
It’s old news that “truth is stranger than fiction.” Far more delightful is a tale that shows us truth is sillier than fiction. The Rector and the Rogue by W.A. Swanberg is a true story full of nonsense, art, crime, and spectacle. I laughed—no, guffawed!—out loud, couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and wound up tickled to live in the weird world that we do.

Confession: here at PAPER/PLATES, we try to review mostly new works. I cheated. This book was published in 1968 but has only recently been
Sep 01, 2015 robyn rated it liked it
This book is rare illustration of the axiom that truth is stranger than fiction. It's not that the story is so unbelievable or impossible, or even so unlikely - it's just so pointless. It's like a plot device in a television show that charms and diverts but in the end goes nowhere; you end by shaking your head and thinking, what was that?

Which sounds like criticism, but this is a really lovely little book.

It's not a whodunit, despite the fact that a great deal of the story is taken up by the que
Bill Hammack
Jan 03, 2013 Bill Hammack rated it really liked it
Several years ago I had read W.A. Swanberg's Citizen Hearst. Big, thick, but compelling. Swanberg was a master of the popular biography. While this book is slight, it has the same virtues. Essentially it is the story of what we would call today a performance artist. Swanberg wrote it for the New Yorker, but they declined to publish it - "That foolish magazine sat on it for six year and never got around to publishing it" he write. One can see why: He is not able to fully flesh out his performance ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Great fun -- a starchy, very sober New York churchman finds himself the victim of a seemingly unmerited (or is it?) and extremely elaborate practical joke.
Worth reading for the crazy window into an eventful month in Victorian New York City and how the newspapers covered the action, as well as for Swanberg's entertainingly obvious sympathy for "Gentleman Joe," the mysterious director of all the antics swirling around the rector.
I love the Collins Library and think this is one of the more accessib
Rob Atkinson
Jul 09, 2015 Rob Atkinson rated it liked it
Not as much fun as I might have hoped, based on the synopsis. The story itself is amusing but a bit thin to support a full-length book treatment; accordingly the tale is padded with a bit more background information than is strictly pertinent, or interesting for that matter. I think on reflection that the tale would have been better suited to a chapter-length treatment in a book on New York hoaxes, or a magazine article. I haven't encountered this story elsewhere in my extensive reading on New ...more
Aug 15, 2016 Ann rated it liked it
A very interesting true story. In 1880, the rector of Trinity Church in NYC was the victim of a series of practical jokes. Someone was sending postcards (allegedly from Dr Dix, the Rector), ordering flowers, food, furniture (asking folks to stop by and pick up his wives old clothes). The perpetrator of the hoax was known as "Gentleman Joe". Apparently the story was followed closely by all the newspapers of the day.
Kristina Harper
Dec 29, 2013 Kristina Harper rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
This is a charming recollection of a hoaxster named E. Fairfax Williamson -- but known as "Gentleman Joe" -- who perpetrated a series of pranks on the Reverend Morgan Dix of Trinity Church in New York in the 1880's. The story captured the imagination of New Yorkers and was covered by all the city's newspapers. The hoax was too complicated to recount here -- read this little book, the only full account of Gentleman Joe's exploits in existence. Good stuff.
Andrew Kaufman
Nov 21, 2011 Andrew Kaufman rated it liked it
This is a bit dated, only in that the narrative voice is slower then what contemporary readers are used to, but each and every character in it is really fascinating. Somebody's gonna do a fictionalized version of this and walk away with a Booker...
Emmanuel Chinyamakobvu
Emmanuel Chinyamakobvu rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2012
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Jan 18, 2012 amber rated it it was ok
Anticlimactic, but well-suited as a time machine.
Spanishliz rated it it was ok
Aug 02, 2011
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