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January 17, 1959 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1959-01-17
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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S

St.

IVerb Gardner:

A Failure
To Write Creatively

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Michigan's Search for More D
There Is a National Shortage, but "the Problem Is 'Acute' in Thi

A PIECE OF THE ACTION. ByI
Herb Gardner. Simon and,
Schuster. New York. 313 pages.
i1 $3.95.
fA PIECE of the Action," Herb
Gardner's first novel, is a
"novel of experience" as distinct
from the "novel of invention," andI
one in which the author has not'
fulfilled his obligation to write'
creatively.
The "novel of experience" is
built with the materials of the
author's own life, the life of a
contemporary, or the popular
knowledge of a public figure. The
facts are not altered, although an:
author is free to interpolate purely
imagined events.
What comes from this depend-
ence on true experience is a core

of common experience, and it Is
this -repetition of first love and
war and the quest for success that
imposes an artistic obligation on
the author's right to express him-
self.
This is in contrast with the
"novel of invention," where the
subject -matter introduces so
unique an experience that there
are no concomitant demands on
the narrative technique which
must be the strength of an ex-
periential story.
HOW THE STORY is told is part
of the value there. Compare
William Goldman's "The Temple
of Gold" with any of Jack Kerou-
ac's three "first" novels.
Goldman orders the experience
of growing up, not as a record of

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Iday - to - day happenings, but in
terms of what areas of interest
his protagonist comes to first, be
it family or boys or girls.
A new book, "Your Turn To
Curtsy, My Turn To Bow," shows
how William Goldman can take
a common experience, young love,
and recount that experience as if
it were an utterly new thing.
He brings this about with his
narrative technique; the adult
narrator can stand well away from
the summer and the summer's love,
able both to ttll his story and to
address himself to the reader, in
a way that makes the experiences
set down more meaningful, a
method that suggests the writings
of Henry Fielding.
KEROUAC'S "The Town and the
City," published nearly eight
years ago, has nothing to organize
it except the succession of events
that comprise a boy's passing to
the age of manhood.
The book is further hampered
by the author's borrowed articula-
tion, in that he writes sporadically
like Thomas Wolfe. His books are-
a naked attempt to set down per-
sonal experience, and it is his
intent that demands creative writ-
ing to lift his work above the
ordinary.
A superb example of creative
writing, where the narrative tech-
nique transforms the common ex-
perience into a work of art, is
Wright Morris' "The Huge Sea-
son."
The main parts of the story are
separated by a thirty-year inter-
val; a group of people who met in
the Twenties must live through a
crisis, later, precipitated by their
ties to one another.
Their initial relationships are
portrayed in sections of an un-
finished novel by one of the pro-
tagonists, and sections of this;
novel are introduced at various,
times in the narrative. That the
man Foley has been unable to
finish his novel is also a factor in
the story itself.
Although "The Huge Season" is1
not a first novel, it is a successful
example of what is meant by an+
author's obligation to write crea-
tively when his materials are not
born in the imagination.I
NOW IS THE TIME to show how
what has been said applies to{
"A Piece of the Action," the book
actually being reviewed here.
Gardner fails in his book mainly
because he takes no creative
chances; he just lets things hap-
pen.
This is, first of all, a search-+
for-success story. "A Piece of the
Action" is the story of a young de-j
signer who invents a similar char-+
acter called The Slob; the book7
tells how Lou Gracie's premature

exposure to the business world
almost costs him his integrity.
It is not that the events of his
book seem to come from Gardner's
own life that is unfortunate. It is
that his reluctance to take a
chance with his materials com-
pels considering his book only as
c'lorful exposition.
GARDNER'S faults go beyond
the refusal to seek out a mean-
ingful method of narration.
Even in what he does do, he
is lax. He succumbs, several times,
to what can be called "the toilet-
seat corollary." Teachers of writ-
ing condemn the practice of allow-
ing a character to indulge in
mental soliloquies while fighting
or running to catch a bus or put-
ting the cat out; rather that the
character thinks about things at
a time of reposes, in bathtubs and
elsewhere.
Lou Gracie's first love is the
sub-plot in this novel; and the
author gives us the details of what
has proceeded before the start of
the novel, with the protagonist
sitting alone in a restaurant, while
he contrives an otherwise unneces-
sary ride in a taxicab to facilitate
another time of reflection.
Gardner includes several good/
bad dialogues, usually drunken,
conducted inside Lou's head. The
technique simplifies the presenta-
tion of material that would be
better worked out through the
protagonist's interaction with the
other characters.
GARDNER'S few attempts to
order his book misfire because
they also are too easily done.
These are where he sets up cer-
tain crisises by establishing prece-
dents for them earlier in the novel,
as when he stresses the integrity
of a character whose betrayal is
pivotal to the action and how he
underlines the self -consciousness
'that forces Lou to botch a rela-
tionship with one of three women
in the book.
Likewise, the ending loses force
because the crisis takes place in
the protagonist's head, raising the
question of why the resolution had
to happen then and there.
It would be wrong just to pay
lip-service to Herb Gardner's very
formidable abilities. A few of the
scenes that show him off best in-
clude: the whole relationship be-
tween Lou and his uncle Vic, but
mainly the scene in the new car;
Lou's drunken encounter with the
little ,girl, some of Lou's love for
Nina, and the young-old impu-
dence that Lou shows during the
cocktail-hour contract hassle.
Talent is there, but it needs
more discipline than that which
comes with the impulse to try one's
hand at writing a novel.
-Burton Beerman

THROUGHOUT the United
States today, there is a grow-
ing concern over a rising need for"
physicians. President Dwight D.
Eisenhower, and the nation's medi-
cal leaders have predicted a serious
shortage of doctors if steps are not
taken to increase the number of
M.D.'s.
Although the need for doctors is
nationwide, the shortage is being
very sharply felt in Michigan.
The need for more physicians
in Michigan has been called
"acute" by a six man committee
on state medical education needs
composed of state health officials,
Dean A. C. Furstenberg of the Uni-
versity medical school, Dean Gor-
don H. Scott of Wayne State's
medical college, and, Prof. S. J.
Axelrod of the University's Bureau
of Iublic Health Economics.
The committee's interim report
made in 1957, briefly sketches the
condition of the state's supply of
physicians.
"Compared to the nation as a
whole, and to the East North Cen-
tral states, Michigan is less well
supplied with physicians than its
population and per capita income
warrent.
"If present population trends
continue, Michigan will have dif-
ficulty in maintaining its present
status regarding physician man-
power."
A LOOK at the physician-popu-
lation ratio, a widely used and,
with some qualifications, a valid
indication of the level of the avail-
ability of physician's services,
shows that for the United States
as a whole, there are 133 physi-
cians per 100,000 population.
This figure has changedrela-
tively little in the past several
decades. In 1920, there were 136
physicians per 100,000 population,
The ups and downs in the inter-
vening years have been relatively
slight. The need for physicians has
remained roughly constant over
Lane Vanderslice, a night
editor on The Michigan Daily,
tells what is being done to
meet the growing need for
doctors.

By LANE VANDERSLICE

come
facil
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side:
Schc
built
pens
tore
and
fleet
Se
eigh
mad
phy:
This
plar
the:
cal
XT
i
ture
cept
scho
125
cent
ate.
have
with
tion
pope
Bi
this
at V
--bu
med
Uni'
It
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lems
scho
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outi
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tion
med
cost
plar
year
back

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the years with new scientific ad-
vances being offset by lengthening
life expectancy, which has resulted
in increased requirements for care
of patients with chronic illness.
But by contrast with the 133
per 100,000 figure, Michigan has
109 physicians for each 100,000 of
its population. New York and
Connecticut, the states with the
highest number of doctors to popu-
lation have 193 per 100,000 and
174 per 100,000 ratios respectively.
IN GENEMAL, states with the
highest per capita income also
have the highest physician-popu-
ltion ratio. New York for examle

has a per capita income of $2,263;
Connecticut, $2,097.
Michigan is at least a partial
exception to this trend. While
eighth in per capita income with
$2,130 it is twenty-third in physi-
cian-population ratios.
There are states worse off than
Michigan in the physician popula-
tion ratio. Mississippi, to take one
of the worst, has only 74 doctors
per 100,000 population. Its per
capita income is $946.
Since 1949. Michigan has been
fortunate in that more physicians
have entered the state than have
left. This has been caused mainly
by the greater demand here.
While this trend may provide

part of the answer, medical au-
thorities agree that it cannot be
counted on as a dependable or
sufficient source of new medical
manpower.
STEPS ARE also being taken to
increase the percentage of doc-
tors remaining in Michigan,
through intern programs in out-
state hospitals and placement ac-
tivities by the Michigan Health
Council.
However, even if all physicians
educated in Michigan were to stay
here, there still would not be
enough to fill expected demand.
A significant portion of the task
of providing new doctors must

Training students to become doctors is a long and expensive task. After beginning a new medical
training facility it will be seven to eight years before the first students are graduated. how best
to increase Michigan's medical schools is currently being studied by experts.

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

SATURDAY, JANUARY 17 J

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