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February 16, 1975 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1975-02-16

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Page Four


Sunday, February 16, 1975 )



Burgess' new testament: On the
American corruption, of Art

IIrlic Cfc 1cf" Q A ICf1"PCSczi

by Anthony Burgess. N e w
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975,
235 pp., $6.9S.
extremely clever and arti-
culate English writer with a
good deal of insight into Amer-
ican culture. The welding of
style and content, form and sub-
stance has always .been a hall-
mark of his work. In Enderby's
End, Burgess fully exercises
his talents in both directions
and provides the reader with an
amusing and perceptive account
of one man against the world.
That man is Professor Ender-
by, a romantic, eccentric Brit-
isher, replete with strange bath-
room habits and excesive para-
noias. Enderby, poet and schol-
ar, is a visiting professor at the
University of Manhattan. Iiis
fame, or perhaps notoriety, is
due to a screenplay he has pen-
ned. After it is sold to Holly-
wood, the screenplay is adulter-
ated into a sex-and-bloxl extra-
vaganza surpassing in horror
but somewhat reminiscent of "A
Clockwork Orange".
As a result. Enderby is the
victim of attack from evey
angle - his students, the press,
anonymous callers, and then, of
course, the typical New York
muggers and hustlers. During
an appearance as a guest on a

talk show he is verbally assault-
ed by a movie queen, a psychcl-
ogist, the wise-cracking host of
the show, and an audience that
is. out for anybody's head.
The portrait of Enderby is
unforgettable. Burgess creates
the personification of twentieth-
century paranoia - the quirky
but tender poet somehow mis-
placed in hostile New York, the
artist compromised by his so-
IPNDERBY's strengh begins
to flag as the novel pro-
gresses, and the plot begins to
sag with him. The last third of
the book is somewhat disap-
pointing - all of Burgess' pa-
tent puns and slick wordings
are here, but in an anemic
state. Enderby's death at the
end of the book is moye of a
nodding-off than a climax. Bur-
gess' wry humor cannnot hold
up without spirit, which t e
story and character seem 4o1
lose in the process.
The book's stronger noints of-
ten lie in smaller places. Bur-
gess' description of the seamsy
side of New York is perfect.
Every spare-changer, subway
terrorist, and lecher that lurks
through New York every day
somehow finds Enderby a n d
tangles with him. His obnoxious
students are appropriately has-
tile, and Enderby' hopeless en-

counter with his creative writing
class is perhaps the funniest and
most successful section of the
Unfortunately these strong
points are countered with scen-
es that just don't work, such as
the final one in which Enderby
ends up sleeping with a woman
who has come to kill him. The
situation is rather obviously con-
trived, and is carried on so
wearily that the reader may
well be relieved when Enderby
keels over in front of the tele-
vision, and thus wins his war
with the world.
BURGESS also makes provoc-
ativepoints concerning art
and the artist's responsibility to
the public. Is art "neutral, nei-
ther teaching nor provoking, a
static shimmer" as E iderby
would like to believe? Or in fact
is it the ultimate expressionism,
and thus to be held acco rirable
for its effects?
Enderby's screenplay has be-
come a movie in which nuns are
frequently raped and ravague.
In the wake of the film.,, re-
lease, youths everywhere tke
up this as sport. Enderby would
like to forget the whole af1.Jir,
but the world won't let him.
Burgess' manipulation ct this
tension is the highlight of En-
derby's End. His inability to
sustain it is its failure.
Susan Orlean is a sophomore
majoring in English.

reverend peers into t
by John Updike. Alfred A. somewhat illiberal medium
Knopf: New York, 228 pp., of the Reverend Marshfield
$6.95. (who prefers Barth. to Tillich,
By RICHARD STREICKER comfort to the void, and nags
A Month of Sundays, Joh n unmercifully both his virtuous
Updike's seventh novel, is cx- wife Jane and his liberal, bi-
tremely long for a short book, sexual, socially-conscious as-
{ -- Updike's prose, always written sistant Ned Bork) the problems
.::::<n"with the compression of poetry,
has grown more compressed.......#......
;" and convoluted now that the
.. ~narration has passed from the . h
discreet third person of the long- Like e prota go-
. } .ish Couples and Rabbit Redux . .
into the well-educated but over- n1St inI m u e l
wrought hands of the Reverend
Thomas Marshfield. Beckett's 'Molloy/f
The Reverend is an errant B
midwestern clergyman sent in Re v M arshfield
disgrace from his parish to golf,
play cards, and write his con- *
fessions as a form of therapy SiiS in a r 0 0 m
in a desert resort for wayward
clerics. His sins are mainly sex- writing in to the,
ual, his preoccupations largely
existential, and his main lit-d
erary fault an endearing but *
fatiguing ornateness, parodying Beckett's void is a
SUpdike'sown, in which insights,
sexual, existential and literary r a emptiness
come closely-packed as New
Yorkers on the rush-hour sub-
wav. Re&v. Marshfield's
Thie good Reverend writes all .
morning every day for a month yoid is the space
of Sundays. Mrs. Prynne, the
capable and efficient directrix be t we e n objects
of the desert retreat, peruses his
efforts periodically, withouti a f t f
comment. Like the protagonist in a ife too
in Samuel Beckett's Molloy,
Rev. Marschfield sits in a room, Opeople and
writing into the void. B u t
where Beckett's void is stark, memories. H i s is
depopulated, a real emptiness,
Rev. Marshfield's void is the an American void.
sroace between objects in a life
too full of people, duties, books.
and memories. His is an Amer- M.:. .... ":::..,:"::"::.;.
ican void.
UUpdike's major concerns cave of love and identity in a c m-
U L Ealways been those old-fashioned placent suburban congregation
American institutions: the fam- assume a poignancy amid such
. f:::<::.:.r'.. r :,::::..,.. n :< .ily, the town, the church. He is seemingly solid objects as non-
son of Neutron Total Cross Section one of the few major Ameri- ey, marriage, and the comfort-
Data with Theory, 2038 Randall can writers who seems to sre ing doctrines of mainline Pro-
Lab, 4 pm. a difference between different testantism.
UAC Future Worlds: walter Reit- Protestant denominations. Tn Such poignancy is not empt.i-
man, "Artificial Intelligence: Exam- A Month of Sundays, Updike ness, however. The airy void
pies and Extrapolations," Rack-
ham Aud., 8 pm has gone all-out, making a envisioned by eastward-leaning
Music School: Symphony Orches- clergyman and his troubled flock mystics on (say) a college cam-
tra, Theo Alcantra, conductor, Hill e focus of attention. pus has no meaning in the
Aud.; Guest recital, Albrecht Os-
tertag, tenor; Sylvia Bernesconi, so-
prano; Helen Basler, piano, Recital
flail; 8 pm for both events.
Near East. Studies; Ctr. N. East
N. African Studies; Comp. Lit.:a.
Band UCLA, "he HistricalBack-
ground of Kafka's 'The Trial"' Ej
Conf. Rm., Rackham, 8 pm.aUSt er s com i
Taylor and Company, Pendleton

he vod
1matrix of Reverend



field's world. Even when he
would deny God and assert No-
thingness, he does so as a means
to an end - in one case, to
coax himself into an erection.
The problem is always ethical.
There is always a choice: if not
between Good and Evil, then at
least between paths leading to
Happiness and Unhappiness.
A clergyman denying G )d to
get an erection in order to com-
mit adultery with the wife of a
deacon - the idea may seem
strange. A Month of Sundays is
riddled with such jarring dis-
cords in tone, which is why
rendering judgment on the book
is so difficult. Reverend Marsh-
field's tone turns back on itself
at every point; his tricksy, ban-
tering, punning style undercuts
the existential seriousness of his
concerns. The writing is so
good, so compressed, that szen-
es of the greatest intensity are
over before their impact is felt.
The most serious ideas of the
most important modern theol-
ogians fly back and forth
through Reverend Marshfield's
speculations like so many ping-
pong balls on Venus. The good
Reverend writes a non-preach-
able sermon on each of the four
real Sundays of his month (f
Sundays, and so fast and lo;e
does his distracted mind play,
with the words of the Scripture
that it throws doubt on the cer-
tainty of his whole search. j

photo by Jill Krementz
portant junctures of his life, the
crassness and banality of so
much of the suburban adultery
described - it is all too new,
too raw, too trendy, as flimsy as
the new suburban America it-

:Y+ }PS C} ." SY+ :G":? 'i" r},v v r:i"T .f. ..

UT THIS is just the point of A Month of Sundays i dis-
Updike's novel.Be it turbing because the prevalent
stUength or weakne Be clecallowness of tone and event be-
lies the life-and-death serious-
ments of ReverendsMarshfield's ness of theme. John Updike is
world are out of sync, as in- one of our finest writers, and
congrous as a used car sale--we might do worse than to trust
man talking to a yogi. A his judgment that the concerns
Month of Sundays is crammeJ of ethics and theology jibe in
full of wonderful sente'cs, some way with even the dub-
memorably-phrased thoughts ous overbusy lives of Revered
poetic insights - the stuff of the Marshfield and his parishioners.
finest classical novel-writing. Those not iclined to trust might
Bttebook also, quite dis- tyToenticie otutnih
tinctheand quite intentionall try reading backwards from the
last paragraph. It is about sex,
lacks the feel of a classic. The ast iardgra .
and i sadoy
improbable setting of a des arti
resort for disgraced clergymen Richard Streicker is a recent
(complete with golf course and graduate of the University and
open bar), the nimbleness of a11opwood award winner in
Marshfield's prose at the im-
fJ(ineUI ariu


Sunday, February 16
Day Calendar
TV (Ctr.: Iveasiflman Creators of
Portfolios, Channel 4. noon.
WUOM: Univ. Values Year Semi-
nar - Dr. Michael MaccobyWash.
ch. of Psychiatry, "Tie Head ver-
sus the Heart: The Ethical Bal-


Confronting the Holocaust
Prof. Lucy S. Dawidowicz
Author of
and noted authority on Eastern
European Life and the Holocaust
Monday, Feb. 17-8:00 p.m.
aot dHrLLEL-1429 Hill St.
Sponsored by Dept. of Historv & Program of Judaic Studies

ance," 1:05 pm.
IM Sports: Family recreation,
1:30-5:30 pm.
PTP: Walker's The River Niger,
3, 8 pm.
Music School: Faculty Chamber
Concert, Rackham Aud, 4 pm (live
over WUOM 91.7 MHz); Wm. Ded-
erer, trumpet doctoral, Recital Hall,
2 m; Madelene Klassen, organ, Hill
Aupd., 8 m.
Monday, February 17
WUOM: Roderick McFarquhar,
British m.p.. "Succession in China,"
10 am.
CCS: W. Chapman, "Applications
in Particle Physics," 2050 Frieze
Bldg.. 10 am.
Near East. Studies; Ctr. N. East,
N. African Studies; Comp. Lti.: Ar-
nold Band, UCLA, "An Explication
of Agnon's Story, 'The Lay and the
Peddlar,"' Lee. Rm 2, MLB, 4 pm.
Statistics: Philip David, U. of
British Columbia, "Models for
Medical Data," 439 Mason, 4 pm.
Physics: M. J. Longo, "Compari-
( World Airways bG..
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poetry) ana essay.

alive: a
ig of age

Ctr., Union, 8 pm.
Men's Basketball: UM vs. MN,
Brisier Arena, 8:05 pm.
Summer Placement Service
3200 SAB, 763-4117
Youth Conservation Corps, Lan-
sing, MI: openings for Camp Dir.,
Environmental Educ. Coord., Ac-
tivities Coord., further details
available; appl. deadline, Feb. 27.


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TATTOO by Earl Thomp-
son, New York: Putnam, 568
pp., $10.
(hNE OF MY fondest adoles-
cent memories is the thought
of the bottom row of paper-
backs kept in Melady's drug-
store. Others la b e le d these
works "dirty," we affectionate-
ly t a g g e d them the"juice
books." The juiciest obligingly'
fell open automatically to their
first big sex scene.
(By the way, that first acne
producing s e q u e n c e always
seemed to appear somewhere in
the first 90 pages, as if it ware
an unwritten law.)
OF COURSE, we never bought
the books, even if Mrs.
Spencer, the lady behind the
register, would have let us. Be-
sides, we could always find
similar literature in our fathers'
dresser drawer, hidden under
his underwear with his condoms
and nudist colony magazines.
Interest in anatomy was part
of growing up. Not that we
would have been able to do any-
thing if we ever got the chance,
but at least by reading about it
we felt better prepared.
Tattoo by Earl Thompson has
something in common with those
B-paperbacks. The first juicy

scene comes well before page
90 and subsequent titilations ap-
pear throughout the 568 pages
of Tattoo. Nobody w r i t e s a
more descriptive sexual scene
than Thompson; perhaps, no one
writes as many.
But there is more to Tattoo
than sex. There is also a fair
amount of violence, and more
important, the story of a young
man coming of age.
A S IN THOMPSON'S first no-
vel, A Garden of Sand, the
main character is once again
Jack Andersen - poor, white
trash from Kansas, whose fa-
ther is doing 20 to life in the
pen, whose mother is, in the
kindest words, a lady of pleas-
It is, in fact, Jack's own mo-
ther who initiates him into this
world of virgins and whores and
although only a tike, his quest
for manhood is a search and
seizure foray-taste after taste
after taste.
Jack is trying to become "a
full citizen in the world". Like
most young boys, he believes it
is essential to perform the hero-
ic deed, but Jack does not fit
the heroic mold and instead
seeks the experience he can
call "his very own.''
Unfortunately, this is more
complicated than it seems. For
Jack feels he comes from bad
blood and that he is doomed
from the start: ergo, tattooed-
the exhibitionist's attempt to

Next Year's President of the
Michigan Union Board of Directors
is being selected.
Students who will be ENROLLED in '75-'76
can obtain petitions and information at
1011 SAB
Petitions must be filed by March 19, 1975

The elnsiveness of finding a
olace in the world continues, so
he goes West only to find the
Horatio Alger theme equally
waning. He re-enlists.
Stationed in Germany, he
meets an older woman (she is
only 22, but then he is only 19).
There is talk of marriage and
responsibility, of a career in the
military. But his dream of an
officer's commission is rejected
on the grounds that he is "psy-
chologically unfit."
* * *
KOREA FLARES and he sees
his first action. Once con-
vinced war transformed boys in-
to men, he is now horrified of
fighting for ideological pinci-
nles. Wouxnded he returns to the
States and enters school with
ambitions of being an artist.
In the meantime, his family is
dying off. His mother and grand-
father pass away without hear-
ing his plea for love. In Jack
Andersen's world, love exists,
but it never flourishes. The
word is occasionally spoken, but
always comes out sounding hol-
Jack, like his mother, is a
hustler - both innocent and
worldly. Edncated in the areas
which do not score points in the

certify, but not necessarily
achieve, manhood.
* * *
W ITH A FORGED birth certi-
ficate, Jack enters the Navy
at fourteen, but WWII ends
while he is still in boot camp
and he finds himself stationed .
on a hosoital ship in China....
With the war no longer a
stenping stone to manhood, he <
returns to Kansas and tries the <: :
un-and-coming-young-man rou-
tine. He gets a job as a sales- .::::: =>'<,;': :.:;.t .L':
man, marries the church going
girl he has gotten pregnant and
is divorced after the birth of
their child, pantheon of heroes already es-
. chtablished, innocent in that he

never had time for rooted com-
mitments, unqualified pledges.
So, the hustle continues. Fight-
ing not for principal, but simply
to stay alive. And by surviving
he discovers that the truth in
living is "lonely, uncharted and
that the rest is mostly bullshit."
Tattoo is a hearty, gutsy book
-a coming of age for a boy far
moreexperienced than his 19
years would lead us to believe.
* * *
kept thinking of early Mail-
er, James Jones and every once
in a while those "juice books"
in Melady's drugstore.
Jack's struggles are manifest-
ed by finding his place in the
world. And if nothing else, what
he learns is that answer is not
inside a womb, not even in the
one he came from.
He fights and survives. Tattoo
may be the second installment
in Jack Andersen's life, but
honefdlly, it won't be the last.
After all, he is only nineteen,
and despite his worldly experi-
ences,, there are still miles to
go before he sleeps.
Don K u b i t is a freelance
writer living in Ann Arbor.

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548 Church





Spaghetti Dinner

who wrote the book


By Unanimous Vote


.. . ._ . . . . .. . . . . .... r. .r... . a . r. .. wr t .rrw ...w w rw I (


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