In The Architects Are Here (Viking), Michael Winter revisits his fictional alter ego Gabriel English, who has previously appeared as a central figure in two short story collections and in This All Happened, Winter’s first novel (published in 2000). The use of a recurring character in fiction is not new. John Updike devoted four novels and a novella to Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, using Rabbit as a once-per-decade opportunity to (fictionally) take the pulse of American society; Frank Bascombe has been the central character in three novels by Richard Ford; and Exit Ghost, Philip Roth’s most recent novel, is the ninth to feature his alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. In this installment of Gabe English’s life we find him driving back to Corner Brook from Toronto, with a childhood friend and a stray dog along for the ride. The Architects Are Here offers tragedy and betrayal, combined with the lighter notes more often found in a modern picaresque. There is some fine writing to be found in Architects: an early incident involving an anchor rope and an open boat caught out in a squall had me anxiously turning pages to discover the outcome: a perfect illustration of how a story can compel its readers. Winter has noted in interviews that the raw material for the Gabe English fictions comes from his own journals. But it takes more than an observant eye to transform the quotidian clay into literature; a red pencil and ruthless editorial judgement must also be brought to bear. There’s far too much clutter obscuring the narrative in Architects; not everything observed—no matter how keen the eye—should be retained. A good deal of extraneous detail—even some of the minor characters—could have been pared away to better reveal the story at the core.