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September 15, 1974 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-09-15

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Page Four

I HE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, September t:), 1914

BOO

KS

FOR THE KNOW-IT-ALL
How to out-do the best of the
cocktail party opinion-makers

BRAUTIGAN RETURNS
Winding witless tale
of the Gothic West

THE BEST, by Peter Pas-
sell and Leonard Ross. New,
York: Farrar,' Straus and
Giroux, 169 p., $5.95.
By DAVID BLOMQUIST
W EDDINGS, b a r mitzvahs,
and political cocktail parties
a bo un d with creatures like1
Messrs. Passell and Ross. One
encounters them in an over-
sized, overly fluffy chair in a
prominent corner of the room,
belching foul cigar smoke in
every direction while monopol-
izing the conversation with com-
pletely irrelevant remarks like:.
"Now as far as I'm con-
cerned, the best restaurant in'
New York is still Le Pavillion.
Bertha and I ate lunch there
one Saturday in 1952, and we:
NEED
KOSHER MEAT?
Meat Ko-op
Organizing
CALL
SANDY LEVIN
662-0240

had the most magnificent chick-
en in champagne. Just mar-
velous, I tell you."
To which you smile sweetly
and add, "Oh! How interesting.
Isn't it a shame that Le Pa-
villion closed down last year?"
WELL, PASSELL and Ross
have achieved the ultimate
dream of those party-time dilet-
tante critics-at-large -- t h e i r
brief, somewhat unorganized,
often unimportant, and totally
b i a s e d commentaries have
somehow found their way into
print.
Thus all history may now be
blessed with the opinions of
t h e s e previously anonymous
gentlemen on s u c h diverse
topics as:
! The best exit line. "On
April 30, 1956, former Vice
President Alben Barkley, speak-
ing at the commencement ex-
ercises of the University of
Kentucky, declared, 'I would
rather sit at the feet of the
Lord than dwell in the house of
the mighty.' He thereupon keel-
ed over and died."
THE BEST seven letter
word for Scrabble. "'Jon-
quil' (23 points), or, using a
blank, 'quizOer' (24 points)."
0 The best television show.

"The grand experiments in the- THE HAWKLINE MONSTER:
ater-of-the-air . . . .suffered A GOTHIC WESTERN, by Ri-
the fatigue of small budgets and chard Brautigan, New York:
weekly deadlines: for every Simon and Schuster, 1974, 216
Requiem for a Heavyweight, pp. $5.95.
Marty, or Cyrano de Bergerac, By HOWARD BRICK
ten banal melodramas to test By H.........C
the patience of a gin-sodden tTHE HAWKLINE MONSTER
Edge of Night addict . ...Our is a western because it has
- perhaps sentimental - choice 3cowboys and gunfighters for
.s Burns and Allen." characters; it is gothic because
" The b e s t t e n n i s ball. gotten to refrigerate the salad it has 'a near-mad professor and
"Among the pressureless va- dressing. a diabolical monster for char-
riety, Tretorn and Dunlop are ters. Hence Brautigan's subtitle,
first-rate. Fine players will, THEN THERE is Passell and "A Gothic Western." The mix-
however, note a certain leaden Ross's selection as the ture may sound silly, even fri-
feel to either brand that will best movie critic': "John Si- volous, on the face. In fact, it is
change the character of the mon is the movie critic of re- both. Even Brautigan's reputed
game. . . . Thus the tourna- cord, the critic whose reviews wit cannot make up for the ap-
ment player with a fast modern are least likely to sound silly in parent lack of literary worth
game will be much happier with fifty years." here.
the best of the high-pressure Simon is one of the best, sure, Just one example will show
balls-say, the Wright & Ditson Renata Alder? Peter Bogdano- the quality of the book's humor.
or the Spalding Championship." vich (when he's not being sil- Greer and Cameron, the two
ly)? Come to think of ,, ,s hired guns who are later con-
QUITE HONESTLY,however, ' tracted to destroy the Hawkline
some of Passell and Ross's ,,er eensuch athing as a Monster, are introduced while
soap-box remarks leave me a t criic in any .e . they are in Hawaii on a job. The
little less than impressed with Nevertheless, The Best is a voyage from San Francisco
their general abilities as com- cute and undeniably thought- was terrifying for both of them,
mentators. provoking little book. Who ever "even more terrible than the
According t -k cared before about "the b e t time they shot a deputy sheriff
Adge ing ,to the all-knowl- ess nlayer other than Bo'ibv. in Idaho ten times and he
"best" airline food is anythe Fisher", "the best Pieer wouldn't die and Greer finally
served cold-they claim that it torte", or "thl best P- -nce had to say to the deputy sher-
is impossible to serve decent of if on other nl'nets?" iff, 'Please die because we don't
hot food on an airplane. Besides, if nothing else, Pas- want to shoot you again.' And
I challenge that. Airplane sell and Ross's tome will make the deputy sheriff had said,
meals are doll-sized, yes, bu t a nerfect birthdav gift for that 'OK, I'll die, but don't shoot me
they aren't necessarily bad -- relative who alwgvs corners vo again.'
especially on the foreign-r u n at the Fourth . of Julv nienic " 'We won't shoot you again,'
lines. Iberia, for one, offers a with. "You know, when I went Cameron had said.
delicious assortment of various to Michigan in 1937, the b e s t 'OK, I'rni dead,' and he
Spanish delicacies, including a place to go for pizza was . .." was."
steaming bowl of paella rice. iB1o'igitst is (he Dil! When faced with an anec-
In fact, the last time an air-s dote like that in the first chap-
line served me a cold lunch 1 filri 'critic and a H!1opwood ter, presumably included to
spent the next day in bed with award winner. raise a chuckle, what can the
a painful case of food poisoning. _____________________________
Someone along the way had for-
KATE MILLETT
. Friley, Shook Ik ctoughts, C
Grishak and Wilcox

reader look
much.

forward to? Not,

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Bi R A U T 1' G A N insists or
drawing his characters as
superficially as he can. At the
start of the action, they are
described as having "an aura
hbout them that they could han-
dl9 any situ'tion that came up
with a minimum amount of ef-
fort resulting in a maximum designs upon all humanity. All
amount of effect." Beyond that, westerns, in the traditional
we learn very little about them. movie sense of the word must
They remain just as shallow I include a struggle between the
and just as unmemorable forces of good and evil, and this
throughout the rest of the book. fulfills the necessary require-
Since characterization is ments.
minimal, the reader hopes that The action, however, proceeds
Brautigan redeems himself in through a series .of nonsensical
terms of plot. That hope, too, twists and turns and leaves the
is in vain, impression that Brautigan wrote
Greer and Cameron are hired the book from chapter to chap-
by two young women, the Miss ter with absolutely no concep-
Hawklines, who live in a vellow tion of the whole. It is as if he
mansion set in the middle of has tried to mix elements from
Oregon.. Their father, a pro- "Have Gun Will Travel," "The,
fessor exiled from Eastern aca-: Absent-Minded Professor," and
demia, had spent his time work- "The Fall of the House of Ush-
ing in a basement laboratory er." He even throws in some
with a strange concoction of fairy tale qualities, and just a
chemicals, designed to provide hint of the ever-present "Ameri-
"the answer to the ultimate can Dream." In the end, the
nroblem facing mankind." He monster is destroyed, the father
has disanneared prior to the reappears magically, and his
onening of the book, a victim daughters and the gunfighters
of the monster living in the "ice are ready to be married.
caves" on top of which the house The question remains, What is
is built. Greer and Cameron the point of all this? Undoubt-
mst killtemedly, Brautigan is fully aware
professor's daughters can go on of the lack of depth in his char-
with the research. acters and hopefully is not blind
THE MONSTER turns out, to the silliness of his plot. Of
however, to,be a byproduct course, the book may be intend-
of the professor's experiments: ed as nothing more than a paro-
a small gleam of light that can dy of the American 'western",
think and exercise supernatural where the personalities involv-
powers and apparently has evil ' ed are often hopelessly super-

ficial and the action often em-
zarrassingly simplistic.
E DOES add an ironic twist
to the end of the novel, when
he notes that Greer and Jane
Hawkline are later divorced, the
former ultimately going to pri-
son and the latter getting killed
in an automobile accident. Su-
san Hawkline, we are told, ends
up being killed by a stray bullet
in Moscow during the Russian
Revolution. So perhaps it is all
simply a lighthearted jibe at
American Culture. But one can
hardly come away from the
novel without thinking that
Brautigan has exerted a mini-
mum amount of effort resulting
in a minimum amount of effect.
Howie Brick is co-editor of
the Sunday Magazine and co-
founder of the Jack Elam Fan
Club.

I

Michigan Union Billiards

free instructions
pocket billiards
Tues. 7-9 p.m.
open 11a.m.

reduced rates
for couples
lues. 11 a.m.-12 mid.
Mon.-Sat.1 p.m. Sun

:nfused mutterings

M

.w o

Uw

Israeli Dancing
SUNDAY, Sept. 15
12:30 p.m.
HILLEL-1429 Hill St.

styling is our
profession
not law!
U-M STYLISTS
at the Union

FLYING, by Kate Millett,
New York: Alfred Knopf, 1974,
546 pp., $8.95.
By MARNIE HEYN
Analysing Kate Millett's third
project in print is complicated
by Flying's lack of stylistic defi-
nition. Having transcended and
rejected the dissertation format
of Sexual Politics and the more

polemic tone of The Prostitu-
tion Paper, she is left with half
a novel, a year's worth of per-
sonal journal entries, bits of an
unarticulated childhood autobi-
ography, sketchy notes of femi-
nist meetings, and a few left-;
over leaflets floating around in
her head, "tormenting her,"
as she says.
Unfortunately, she committed

it to 546 pages of barely com-
prehensible half-prose which,
even worse, Alfred Knopf pub-'
lished with hopeful hooplah and
a shiny silver-foil-and-hot-pink
dust jacket, not to mention tfie
prescribed $8.95 nick in each
unsuspecting reader's budget.,
This is an over-weighty tome
that for several reasons, should
never have made it off the
presses.

All this disappointment is
made more frustrating by my
interest in Millett as a writer
and a feminist - by the con-
cerns I share with her. In no
way can I condone what she
has cranked out this time: Any
writer "feminist who can, as
she claims in Flying, "live three
years on my royalties" has a
responsibility to other female
authors to turn out well-written

I

Co

PLAI

i
I

The U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society's
MASS MEETING
FOR
"H.M.S. PINAFORE"
SUNDAY, Sept. 15, 8:00 p.m.
HENDERSON RM., Mich. League
singers, dancers, musicians, stagehands
COMMUNITY WELCOME

Inexcusable is Millett's sloppy copy which attempts to com-
writing - she has acquired the municate; and readers deserve
floridity of James, Lawrence, the same. The arrogance and
and Mailer without attempting' lack of emotional perception
to focus thematically. It is hard for which she rightly roasted
to believe that Millett expect- male authors in Sexual Politics
ed the general public to stagger is, in the case of Flying, a
through five sections of a hun- boomerang: she now seems as
dred-odd pages each with in- insensitive as they.
terminably shifting locale, char- Millett's muddiness might be
acters, moods, and apparent in- forgiven if she came from ank
tentions, with only the vaguest impoverished ninteenth century
clues from the author. She literary pioneer background and
could have 'more profitably com- had to write under a male pseu-
municated the sum of her donym, but in these times it

I

I

I

...missing out
on some of the
DAILIES because
of delivery
mistakes?

N'1N-II [--I-AM
THE MUNICH 11
Two years ago today eleven Israeli ath-

letes were murdered
Olympic Games.

by terrorists at the

Moshe Weinberg Zeev Friedman
Joseph Romano Kehat Schorr
David Berger Andre Spitzer
Mark Slavin Yosef Gutfreund
Eliezer Halfin Yocov Springer
Amitzur Springer
THEY WERE LOVELY AND PLEASANT IN
LIFE AND NOT DIVIDED IN DEATH.
May their memory be blessed

meaning in five tight essays and,
a few word-pictures, totaling
about eighty pages, at 95 cents
in paperback.
I cherish the flickering hope
that Millet will be sufficiently
chagrined by this high budget,
heavy stock, vanity press also-
ran to spend the next year
evaluating her work, instead of
waiting until six weeks or so
before her next publisher'sj
deadline, and then coming out
with more inconsequential, in-
dulgent ramblings.
REWARD!!
Si50 reward offered
for a n y information
leading to the recov-
ery of original graphics
by CHAGALL, DALI,
VASSARELLY stolen
from
CENTICORE
BOOK SHOP
336 MAYNARD

is inexplicable. Doris Lessing,
Virginia Wolf, and Jean Kerr,
each in her own style, have
managed to articulate and share
the pain and ambiguity of their
lives, while Millett flounders
and cringes.
Perhaps the most dangerous
part of Flying is the temptation
to take one perspective as the
whole picture, and that is ex-
actly what she does in fuzzy
thumbnail sketches of the is-
sues that have been debated in
the women's movement during
the past two years. Being on a
first-name basis with Gloria
Steinem and Robin Morgan is
not a license to quote out of
context or draw nasty verbal
pictures, especially when one's
publisher is 'clearly pumping
for a mass market that may

not understand that "revision-
ist" is sometimes a pet name.
Heaven knows that Millett
alone is not to blame. Which-
ever editor let her get away
with a metaphor like "hall-
ways of clouds drenched in the
soak of light like orange juice
over whipped cream" should be
correcting spelling errors for
True Confessions.
Millett's question can now be
answered: "Muttering about the
book, the one in your head that
you don't dare write down.
Why?" Easy Kate: because it's
tripe. You should be congratu-
lated for your courage in ack-
nowledging it, I suppose, but
back to the typewriter and bet-
ter lack next time.

Marnie 1Heyn
torial director.

is a Daily edi-

OR

. . 0

disagree with a bill
we sent you for THE DAILY?
WE'D LIKE TO TRY TO STRAIGHT-
EN OUT THAT PROBLEM, BUT WE
CAN'T IF YOU DON'T LET US
KNOW ABOUT IT.

-

I

I

I

I

OUT-OF-STOCK
TEXT BOOKS
ARRIVING DAILY
Buy and Save
at
FOLLETTS
State Street End of the Diag

CALCULATOR DEMONSTRATION
by MR. RON STEVENSON from
Hewlett--Packard
Monday, Sept. 16 11 a.m.- 4p.m.

- HIGH HOLIDAY SERVICES-
ROSH HASHANAH
Sept. 16 Sept. 17 Sept. 18,
Reform 7:15 p.m. 10:00 a.m.
(1429 HILL)
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