Journal review, March 15, 2016
Angeles Review of Books, March 9, 2016
Francisco Examiner review, April 24, 2014
Jose Mercury News review, Sept. 10, 2014
Journal review, April 1, 2014
Burgan (Folk Songs & Stories), with assistance from Rifkin (creative
writing, California State Univ., Long Beach; Signal Hill: Stories),
recounts his life as a founding member of the San Francisco electro-folk
band We Five ("You Were on My Mind"). This memoir brings
together his experiences at a time, the 1960s and 1970s, when the
folk and rock music cultures were undeniably going through a transformation.
Regardless of your prior knowledge of music or desire to read explicitly
about We Five, this book tactfully delves much deeper than band history.
It integrates stories of growth and maturity of a group of musicians
from teens through adulthood with tales of drugs, religion, relationships,
love, and discrimination as seen through Burgan's eyes. The final
chapters include recent updates on the band and its members; for several
it was the final days of life among longtime friends. VERDICT This
excellent, well-written chronicle of the folk-rock revolution from
an active band member of that time will be enjoyed by general readers
and fans of music memoirs.” —Elizabeth Berndt-Morris,
Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mount Pleasant
review, Oct. 23, 2014
Magazine review, November 2014
"Written with insight and wit, Burgan's empathy chiming
perfectly with those heady times."
Martinson interviewed me about Signal Hill on “Connie Martinson
Talks Books,” February 2004
Weissman interviewed We Five's Jerry Burgan and me
about the seeds of folk-rock contained in a JFK project to promote
the space race, and Jerry sang three songs in studio.
Weekly Profile by Dave Wielenga, April 29, 2009
Times Profile by Lynell George, Jan. 6, 2004
P-T Profile by John Canalis, Jan. 18, 2004
Gazette Profile by Jenny Lee Rice, Jan. 22, 2004
Angeles Times Book Review
"...hauntingly beautiful, the work of a gifted storyteller with
a sharp eye but a tender heart."
"Rifkin writes with such startling originality
that you have to believe he'll be the next darling
of the literary world."
Reviews, *Starred Review
"Stories... suggest that Rifkin is what might have happened had
Nathanael West lived on and been even more talented ... Exquisite."
"...[Y]ou've got to be ready to read Rifkin. The only guarantee
is his craftsmanship, which inevitably is exquisite."
"As incisive, eloquent and definitive a collection
of L.A. stories as any since David Freeman's A Hollywood
Education. A Hollywood Education nearly twenty years
ago, but from the other side of the psychic tracks,
where desperation runs parallel with wisdom."
"Alan Rifkin's stories have a magnificent plaintive
beauty. Not since Flannery O'Connor have so many misfits
Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"The five relaxed and quietly funny stories in 'Signal Hill'
describe the lives of modern Los Angelenos as webs of happenstance
and muted catastrophe."
Signal Hill ... so oddly out of place and disconnected, unique in
fact from the rest of the city's metropolitan sprawl. Likewise, the
characters that inhabit the four short stories and the novella."
"Alan Rifkin's deeply felt short stories carefully
balance faith and emptiness with both wit and wonder.
A terrific collection."
"A spot-on, weirdly life-affirming and terrifically
written batch of stories. I could read this guy all
"Rifkin combs L.A and environs for characters usually omitted
from the national consciousness: neither drug dealers nor movie moguls,
though lit by reflections from the glossy industry surrounding them."