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November 10, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-11-10

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Page Four


Sunday, November 10, 1974



Fitting into the 'new'
womanhood image

An inside look at the
mammoth oil tanker

Godwin. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, Inc., 419 pp., $8.95.
THE WOMEN'S movement has
had a resounding effect on
literature; in the past few years
it has unleashed a spate of new
books by Erica Jong, Alix Kates'
Shulman, Lois Gould, Doris Les-
sing and others, that attempt
to explore the nature of new
conflicts: What becomes of the
woman raised and bound in tra-
dition when confronted with the
posibility of freedom?
Gail Godwin's woman finds no,
easy answers to the question.
Jane Clifford is a 32-year-o 1 d
school teacher, a woman alone
and floundering. She faces life
uncertainly, unable to resolve
the conflicts and challenges of
being a person in a society that
has given her as a single woman
- the odd woman out - no.
clear role. Jane struggles to find
balance, but only vacillates be-
tween finding her own identity
and losing herself to the male1

Jane Clifford is searching for
a sense of order amidst t h e
chaotic world. Her significance
as a character lies beyond her
own problems; she is a symbol
of hope for her readers. Jane's
is a problem that many can
identify with.
novel are simply mouth-
pieces for the author. Through
their minds Godwin has com-
posed a cynical commentary on
life in the 1970's. More specifi-
cally The Odd Woman is an
in-depth criticism on the plight
of the unmarried woman in a
marriage oriented world.
As Godwin defines her terms,
the "odd woman" is simply a
single woman who has nothing
binding her to another human
being. As Jane becomes increas-
ingly aware of her "aloneness",
she begins to drown herself in
When she realizes that she is
caught between her past and
present values, Jane becomes
overly analytical. While trying
to rid herself of a lifetime of
preconceptions, she begins to
view herself through others'
eyes. Her belief that she is a
social failure becomes so in-
tense that she becomes alarm-
ingly neurotic. One can almost
see her suffocating in loneliness
and grasping frantically for the
universal answer."
JANE CLIFFORD is the type
of person who sits back ad-
miring the life styles of others
but never takes the initiative

SUPERSHIP by Noel Most-r
ert. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 332 pp., $8.95.
THERE IS AN old saying that,
describes the sea as a large;
body of water surrounded by,
trouble. According to Noel
Mostert, author of Supership,
trouble is no longer confined
to the land; it has literally been
to change her own life. S h e dumped in all the major water-
seriously begins to question whe- ways of the world.
ther or not the individual has Supership is an intense, sob-
a choice in his own destiny. ering account of the biggest
Godwin -pictures Jane as a ships ever built - the tankers
romantic lost among realists,.hp vrbil h akr
Chatr b chptermshelngssthat carry oil to all parts of
Chapter by chapter she plunges the world. These so-called sup-E
more of her own philosophy ertankers dwarf the great pas-
Jane, until her character emer- eners dwkr the gre
ges as a disillusioned representa- Mary and the Queen Elizabeths
ive of a disintegrating social I n r eng h e adue en g th a-
structure. in height, breadth, length, ca-
pacity and freakish bad looks.
Suddenly understanding that They are an outcome of a seem-
women can no longer be content ingly insatiable demand for oil
to be the women men would like and a need to haul that oil over
them to be, Jane asks herself, needtaults oil
longer distances (especially
"When will life begin for me?" since the closing of the Suez;
The male becomes nothing more Cana in 1967).
than the landlord of a woman's
soul. "Possessions," according Yet while their holds carry
to Jane, "all belong to the men enough oil to power a good-sized
and are loaned to women on city for a day, these ships
borrowed time." In awrebellious cause more problems thanthey
attempt to free herself of the solve. They are the lepers of
male world, Jane begins to have the sea, spilling their infection
blatant sexual fantasies where - oil - into the water, killing
she is in control of the situation. plant and animal life and de-
When she envisions herself hav- spoiling the beaches and shores.
ing relations with a horse, the Supership is also a chroni-
male is finally reduced to the cle of a voyage from the Neth-
level of an animal. Thus, in her erlands to the Persian Gulf
mind she has conquered t h e aboard a supertanker. Mostert,
problem. She is finally the su- a latter-day Ishmael, takes pas-
perior one in the relationship., sage on the British ship Ard-
Gail Godwin has created an shiel - a "medium - sized"1
individual with a sorrowful 200,000-ton-capacity tanker that
existence and painstakingly car- is only a quarter of a mile long
ried her along the road of de- - but finds little of the ad-s
velopment. When Jane leaves ' venture or the beauty of a sea-
her married lover after years of faring lore. He discovers not
wrestling with this unhappy only a new technology of sail-,
existence, she has for the first , ing, but a new type of seaman
time in her life become master ns but a
I as well.
of her own actions. Having fin-

T HIS NEW TYPE of seaman
is a man cut off from the
sea, by the very size of his
ship, and from the shore, by
the very nature of supertanker
voyaging. Ships used to spend
about a. third of their time in
port, loading or unloading; sup-
ertankers, because of their
great cost, are expected to be
at sea about 90 per cent of the
me. A r nd trip voya ge fom effort, and physical ability to
could take almost three months, keep her in shape."
and, since there are only 30 or W1OSTERT FINDS, in general,
so ports in the world that can that supertankers are ships
accommodate these tankers, of inferior quality, built hastily
there are no stops during voy- and without sufficient informa-I


Supertankers most often load
and unload their oil at offshore
berths, and, once finished, they
immediately start on another
voyage. It is not uncommon,
therefore, for men to spend a
year or more on board without
ever setting foot on land. Most-
ert is struck by the feeling
among many of the officers of

tion about the particular stress-
es their great size makes them
subject to. They are ships of
a short-term nature - only
built to last 10 years - whose
seaworthiness becomes suspect
after half that time. And too
often, they are manned by of-
ficers who lack any certifica-
tion or experience with these
peculiar brands of vessels.

dents involving supertankers in-
crease every year, and, with
500,000-ton tankers already at
sea and a million-ton tanker be-
ing prepared, the future holds
the prospect of more frequent
and calamitous disasters.
Yet, the profits involved in
supertanker operations are so
enormous that it is doubtful
that any effort will be made to
slow down their production or
to improve on it. An indepen-
dent operator like Aristotle
Onassis can make as much as
$4 million profit by leasing one
of his ships to an oil company

Mostert, a latter-day Ishmael, takes passage on the
British ship Ardshiel, but finds little of the adventure
or the beauty of a seafaring lore. He discovers not

environment and of life within
it we will eventually be left
Supership is a book that star-
ties as well as fascinates. South
African-born Mostert draws on
all his experience as a ship-
ping reporter and foreign cor-
respondent to provide a well-
documented investigation of
the oil and shipping businesses.
He also draws on his consider-
able background and affection
for the sea to provide a por-
trait of the tragic death of a
great nautical tradition - a
tradition, based on respect for
the sea and its power, that in-
spired perfectionism in ship-
builders and crews.
is somewhat overwritten.
His prose at times. attempts epic
heights, and he seems some-
what self-conscious that he is
following in the tradition of
Melville and Conrad. Yet such
affectations are not serious
enough toedetract from the
book's intelligence or impact.
Nor are they serious enough to
undercut Mostert's plea for the
"We'll find something else
instead of oil to light our lamps
and to turn our too-many
wheels," he writes. "The seas
we shan't replace."
Charles Storch is a graduate
student in Journalism.

A representative
will be on the campus
NOVEMBER 12, 1974
to discuss qualifications for
advanced study at
and job opportunities
in the field of
Interviews rnay be scheduled at
Thunderbird Campus
Glendale, Arizona 85306

only a new technology of sztiling, but a

new type of

seaman as well.

SeSaturday's Papersp
For Details of
One Day SALE I
TODAY, Only!

the Ardshiel that "they are
aboard a modern form of the
Flying Dutchman, destined to
pass to and fro around the Cape
of Good Hope for ever more."
While Mostert has words of
praise for the men of the Ard-t
shiel, he is less generous about
their ship. "Well managed as!
she was," he writes, "it none-
theless required the constant
weight of everyone's concern,}

It is no wonder, Mostert
says, that so many supertank-
ers have foundered at sea or
have run aground; nor is it sur-
prising that so much oil has
been dumped into the sea. Mos-
tert estimates that 1.7 million
tons of crude oil are discharged
into the sea every year - and
nearly 1.4 million tons of that
comes during routine loading
and unloading operations. Acci-

for a single return trip to the
Persian Gulf.
continue," w r i t e s
Mostert, "with demand and
profits waxing and the oceans
alas, waning . . . There seems
a strange sinister touch of al-
chemy about it all - of black1
gold turned to golden gold andj
the lot ending up as pure dross,j
which will be the quality of the

ally driven herself to the path
of action, she is on her way To
a rewarding existence.
Laurie Seed an is a Journal-
ismn major.

TIte sPcirh for sel in iUnderciround black America

TO MY SONG, by John Mc-
Cluskey. New York: Random
AL L YOU CAN ouse, 251 pp., $6.95.j
suN, NV. io JOHN McCLUSKEY has at-'
SUN., NOV. 10 tempted in Look What They
6-7:30 Done to My Song, his first
novel, to create an Odysseus for
HILLEL-1429 Hill St. Afro-Americans. Mack, the pro-
tagonist, leaves the solidarity of
home to begin his own journey;
must be ordered by
Tuesday, NOV. 19
university cellar

into life. No journey can be con- dreary afternoons. Eventually , ginning, land where we find our TFIE STYLISTIC shortcomings
clusive: man, within his given (the outcome of their plotting), legs are moving." So this odys- of Look What They Done to
time on earth, must continually they flee Plymouth Rock, want- sey, this pilgrinmage towards My Song are unfortunately con-
expand the dimensions of his ed by the military police for self-realization, has, appropri- spicuous, the book's worst fea-
understandings. And the point bootlegging, and go to the Rox- ately, brought Mack to a point ture by far being its title, which
of awareness Mack reaches here bury section of Boston. There of departure. on one hand is totally devoid
concerning the necessary in hu- they stay in the Hotel Deluxe, Mack's experience is meant to of originality, and on the other
man existence is a beginning a run-down joint, where all the illustrate the necessity of sch bears nosubstantive relation to
rather than an end. other occupants are similarly a journey for self-exploration the novel. The preface is 'a
Mack leaves his home town, biding time, aimless people in and growth for an entire social stream - of - consciousness me-
Santa Fe, with two convictions sad isolation. In Roxbury there group: "A manchild is coming,) lange of imagism, delirium, did-
that he must depart becauset:is the additional necessity to has to be coming, we've agreed. acticism, nagrative, and an-
life there lacks intensity, squel- scuffle fo' a piece of change,' And, though we can only hope alytic erudition packed unfor-
ches his soul; and that some- with only the most demoraliz- for the lands he will see, his tunately together at the onset
how music is the tool that will ing, alienating types of, work voyage has just begun." of the book and embellished
make his soul potent. Mack available. Residual hopes and r-HE WORLD of Look What with italicized type. Read in
plays blues sax. For him blues anticipations always contrast They Done to My Song is retrospect it is a concise ex-
have the mystical power of glumly with the reality of the the same world portrayed in plication of the book's meaning;
black magic; they promise not present and the plausible. several classics of Afro-Ameri- as an introduction it is a fiasco.
only self-fulfillment for him but can literature: one in whichy Thyrominent, is also weak.
also, obscurely, can contribute 'AFTER GHASTLY visions of white society's standards and Apart from those major short-
to the salvation of Afro-Ameri- suicide with lips gone grey, regulation are imposed from Apart foo aj hort
cans as a people from their his- of Antonin, "Exile from Hell hej above on the black populace; comings, Look What They Done
torical oppression. called his life, later this book," one in which all legitimatevery solid foundation of setting
Mack arrives at Plymouth Mack desperately forces himself roads to material success are 1 a n d characterization. Mack's
Rock, Massachusetts, and stays I into an awareness of his crum- closed to blacks. So under- final discovery appears some-
with an elderly black couple biling life, and a period of spir- ground occupations a b o u 1 d. what simplisatic: but McCluskey
for a time. Unable to find ser- it;al revitalization b e g i n s. Given the underground, guer;i - is grasping at what he believes
ious work as a musician, he Through experience rather than la nature of this world, it is is a fundamental truth of hu-
passes time aimlessly. He and intellectualization M a c k con- also largely devoid of trust. man existence, and it may be
a crony, Ubangi, both adrift, ceives his transcendental idea: McCluskey introduces voodto, that the most basic truths are
without motivations for positive that people, caught together I black magic, and additional I always obvious, once made ex-
action together plot through struggling through the crazy African associations into this 'plicit. The book is well-paced,
patterns of their lives, can world, distinguishing it from and dialogue is at times splen-
through mutual support achieve that of its literary predecessors. I did. In a first novel, it is not
some meaning in their mortal;Whtethsara nia3,ddInafstovlitsnt
Those Were The Days estences.. Whether these are, as indicad, surprising to find stylistic and
I IU H I f existences.. c u 1 t u r a 1 carry-overs from thematic imperfections. Mc-
WITH A TOUCH OF The ending of the novel is Africa, which having layed Cluskey, obviously sensible of
MODERN CLASS built on a sermon, the theme seething, unspoken, within the literary traditions, has not yet
taken from a spiritual: "0 Lord, Afro - American consciousness i found the voice that is uniquely
209 S. State Street I'm tired of this mess." The since the introduction of slavery I his. But his certain ability, and
(2ND FLOOR) conclusion is that spirit, love, to the New World, are nnly ' especially his passionate integ-
undying love for life, and most? now emerging, or whether the rity, finally make Look What
JEANS importantly, strength of self are invention of a people in search They Done to My Song good,
necessary to survive. "Then, af- of roots, is unimportant. What I rewarding reading and distin-
FLANNEL SHIRTS ter the waters of our begin- is crucial is that these elements1guish John McCluskey as a
FURS ning, the fire of our searching, further emphasize the dicho- I writer with a future.
SWEATERS after these comes the land. tomy b e t w e e n mainstream 1
Land that is the end of our be- White America and a Black Alie [enkn is majorin in
American culture, pulsing on an
alien plane, the two planes con. Coinparitiv e Literature and An-
verging only in special, usually 'rnopology at the Residential
ynegative instances. College.
Jwcbn 89.5 fin

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