Page 6-Sundaay, October 1, 1978-The Michigan Daily
The Michigan Daily-Sunday,
Trial and terror on
By Jonn Fowles By Elai
656 pp., $12.95
same old story
H OW MANY strikes does a writer
get in the publishing ballgame?
If he or she is a magazine or
newspaper writer, probably just one.
Each article appears once, and never
again. For novelists, the rules are fuz-
zier. Non-fiction writers routinely up-
date their material, but few fiction
authors revise any of their work. (F.
Scott Fitzgerald comes to mind as an
When I heard that JohnFowles was
about to have a revised edition of the
novel The Magus published, I was more
than a little surprised. The original had
been popular-what provoked Fowles
to change it?
Reading the revised edition without
reading its forward, I would have been
hard-pressed to answer that question.
As in the original, the story is about a.
young, middle-class Englishman
named Nicholas who goes off to a Greek
island to teach school in order to escape
a confused relationship with Alison, the
lower-class Australian woman he has
Elaine Guregian is a senior
in the Music School.
been living with. Nicholas discovers a
strange, rich man living in a secluded
villa on the island; a situation complete
with beautiful twins who are
mysteriously obligated to Conchis (the
owner) but not averse to coy flirtations
with Nicholas. Nicholas becomes in-
fatuated with Julie (twin sister to June)
and determines to extricate her from
the exciting but dangerous environ-
ment Conchis has created to keep her
(sigh) His, All His.
The plot has more than a twist added
to this standard boy-meets-girl sum-
mary I've given; it is a veritable maze,
interweaving mythology, literature,
psychology and history.
Nicholas is basically a cad, yet
Fowles makes him appealing and
forgivable. The scenes showing why he
and Alison can't get along are just as
convincing as those that make it clear
they are a good match.
Fowles has a real flair for charac-
terization, plot, and description, as
proven both in The Magus and earlier
works such as The French Lieutenant's
Woman and The Collector. In the for-
ward to the revised
Magus he wrote:
edition of The
I T WAS EMBARRASSING. My body lay on
net in twisted ruins, like a moth entangle
the web work of a spider.
After gathering my thoughts and counting
limbs, I reclimbed the ladder. The aerialists t
me I had not kicked hard enough, nor did I let
fast enough -something someone once defined
But Richie Gaona always kicks hard enough a
he leaves hundreds of spectators in awe every
as he and other performers routinely fly1
trapeze at Circus World.
"I psyche myself up and have the tricks
through my head like a movie," Gaona said. "I
catcher is always swinging, so I have to make s
to take off at the right time."
Although the 21-year-old Gaona says he's s
learning to master the art of trapeze flying, ma
observers consider him to be the next king
Gaona has been flying for less than two yea
and recently completed his 130th trij
somersault, a feat of which he is especially prou
Though this is not, in any major
thematic or narrative sense, a fresh
version of The Magus, it is rather more
than a stylistic revision. A number of
scenes have been largely rewritten,
and one or two new ones invented...
I should add that in revising the text, I
have not attempted to answer the
many justified criticisms of excess,
over-complexity, artificiality and the
rest that the book received ... on its
Fowles goes on to say that he
discovered the book's greatest appeal is
to adolescents, having written it as a
"retarded adolescent." Having first
read the book as a bona fide adolescent,
I agree with Fowles' assessment. The
story is full of the thoughts about ego,
fantasy, and the workings of society
which especially absorb young adults.
Still, it is excessive and overcomplex,
as Fowles himself admits; but
acknowledgement is not rectification.
A REVISED VERSION
IN THE REVISION Fowles might
have vastly improved the story by
reducing the number of mythological
and literary references. Perhaps since
he's British his conception of an
adolescent's schooling is overblown, by
American standards. But in the United
States, it isn't reasonable to expect that
a high school student has read Les In-
fortunes de la Vertu or the Pervigilium
Veneris, or even that he knew
mythology thoroughly; all of which is
See MAGUS, Page 8
the The'Gaona family's
d in strong, but the circus i
atsamusement parks. 4
myhis new Corvette;a
old backroads, elephants
go often associated with c
Ias Even thoughslife u
I as getting more suburba
artists from the past,
and the only serious injur
da broken nose caused b
And there are those
just doesn't feel like c
go trapeze platform.
The "You know you gotta
ure slipping on his red tig
ny TER IN the after:
of T T
again and the at
powdered magnesia o
ars from slipping and I
ile Suddenly, as he reach<
d. in his flight, he let go o
another triple somer:
with his catcher, Manu
The audience brok
cheers as Richie leapt
the platform, burstin
Standing on that lau
high riggings of the er
breath after taking ano
I tried to think conf
my body from behind
clung to the bar. "Rer
and released me. I fh
"Kick, kick!" I hear
I kicked, let go of the
point and completed
The aerialists congr
stopped bobbing arou
knew it was the end of r
The trapeze belongs
the Flying Gaonas.
greatest moments of t
taking spills on that
private backyard circu
is on target
By Gregg Krupa
By Tom Wicker
The Viking Press, 260 pp.
At the Republican National Convention in 1964
former President Dwight Eisenhower delivered a
keynote speech that was reported by the press as a
plea for party unity. Midway through the address in
the Cow:Palace Eisenhower turned to the area
where the press sat, somewhat precariously, and
attacked "those outside our family, including
sensation-seeking columnists and commentators..."
Sitting among the members of the press was a
four-year veteran of the New York Times
Washington Bureau Tom Wicker.. In this, his
eleventh book, On Press, Wicker points to the
general's address as the emergence of "the press"
as an issue in American life.
Far form being just observers on the sidelines, by
1964 the press had become, according to Wicker,
''players in the game itself."
On Press is an important book that documents the
changing role of the media during the 30 year career
of one of the most influential reporters of our time.
The task of a journalist in a free society is
challenging during any period. But when changes
occur in the society that transform the sacred
precepts of the fourth estate the challenge becomes
immense. Even the most gifted journalists-and
Wicker certainly ranks near the top of that
list-wondered for a time whether the institution
could stand the strain.
On Press is an important book for the journalist
because one of the press' seminal figures
documents the changes in the ground rules of the
occupation during a cataclysmic period. It is
important for the political scientist because those
, \\ . \
- _..--- .
" _ - s
The events of that day so numbed Wicker's
perception that he functioned purely on instinct. His
adrenalin flowed so voluminously that at one point
he jumped a three foot chain fence while carrying
his typewriter and a brief case.
The media consumer will be impressed and
educated by Wicker's description of the inside
story. He gives the reader a grand tour of the house.
One explores the plumbing, which like the roof,
leaks from time to time. He points out the exposed.
wiring that can shock or electrocute. Yet one is
absolutely convinced that despite needed
rennovations the house is worth purchasing.
On Press rivals All the President's Men as the
most complete report of how newspapers and
stories are put together. Wicker was there when the
press failed to get both sides of the Gulf of Tonkin
story-which eventually embroiled the nation in a
most unfortunate and ill-advised conflict. Wicker
was there, seven years later, when the New York
Times decided to reveal the official untold
story-the Pentagon Papers.
Moreover, the book is well written. Wicket's
journalistic style keeps the narratives short yet
informative, the analyses simple and factual.
And yet because Wicker has authored seven
pieces of fiction, one under the fseudonym Paul
Connolly, On Press is also literary in tone.
Writing the book certainly must have helped
Wicker come to a decision on exactly where it is the
press has gone in the 30 years since he was the
"editor, reporter, ad salesman, Omaha folder
operator, relief linotypist, mail clerk, delivery man
and general factotum for the "Sandhill Citizen" of
Averdeen, North Carolina.
Wicker concludes, as the leader is likely to that
the press lies somewhere between "the ruthless
villans of Agnew's warning vision" and "the
stainless heroes of the Redford-Hoffman movie.".
By Dennis Sabo'
T HE CLOSEST I had ever come to flying a
trapeze was during daring childhood
adventures on a backyard swing set, at a death
defying three feet above the ground.
But I shook those skinned-knee memories,
accepted a tempting dare, .and climbed the
aluminum ladder leading up to the small platform
from which I would leap. This time, however, the
action took place under a big top circus tent at
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & $ailey Circus World
near Orlando, Florida.
The three-foot fall from that old swing set
suddenly became a 35-foot drop and the higher I
climbed, the lower my courage sank.
Looking out from the three square foot platform
over a huge circus tent, empty except for a
bewildered security guard and a few curious
circus personnel, I felt only a strange glow of
excitement. The eerie fear of uncertainty had
dwindled and I was determined to successfully
complete that first step in mastering the trapeze
- the mid-air somersault.
My instructors, aerialists Richie Gaona and
Gary Miller, somewhat leery of my athletic
prowess, simply smiled as they attached two
safety straps, one at each side, to my special waist
belt; they knew what to expect..
Vince Gaona, head of the world-reknown flying
Gaona family, shouted instructions from below as
he held onto the safety ropes designed to keep me
within target range of the nylon net below.
The trapeze, hanging some 11 feet from the big
top's riggings, gracefully swung to and fro,
tempting me to start my venture.
Richie Gaona said it was simple: grip the bar,
fly outward and back once to gain speed. On the
second outward swing, kick to gain more speed
and after reaching the apex of the swing, release
the trapeze, tuck knees to chin, and simply
execute a somersault before landing in the net.
Simple. Nothing to it.
With visions of Tarzan rescuing Jane from a
jungle beast, I leapt from my perch but my
fantasy ended when I plunged straight to earth
like a kamikaze pilot.
"It took me almost the whole sumrier to do the
triple," Gaona said, rubbing the calluses on his
hands, an occupational hazard of the trapeze
f1AONA'S OLDER brother Tito is considered
the foremost trapeze artist in the world.
Having long ago mastered the triple somersault,
Tito now is working on the quadruple, a feat no one
has ever successfully completed while flying from
trapeze to trapeze. Tito has come close to
completing the stunt and has actually touched
hands with his catcher, but coming off the trapeze
at 70 m.p.h. and turning four times in a matter of
seconds, his catcher has been unable to hold the
Gaona says there's not much competition
between Tito and himself, but once one brother
-does a new trick, the other quickly learns another
that surpasses it.
Although he had been practicing flying during
his spare time, his father and coach, a former
aerialist himself, would not allow the young Gaona
to join the family circus act until he had graduated
from high school. Another family member, 13-
year-old brother Marco, also wants to master the
trapeze but also must wait until he graduates.
changes have forever altered the relationship
between the press and the politician.
It is an important book for'!the historian simply
because one of the writers of the original
documentation of this turbulent period tells the
reader how he approached reporting events that
were challenging the very underpinnings of the
Wicker was in North Carolina when the schools
were desegregated shortly after the Brown
decision. He was in Dallas on November 22, 1963
when a man he calls "the most fascinating might-
have-been in American history",was slain,..
d"a q. # ar . '4 1 r.s" ,
Dennis Sabo is a Daily Night Edi-
tor. Photos by Dan Fager cour-
tesy of the Tampa Times.
.Gregg-Krupa isco-editor of the Daily.
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