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November 11, 1973 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1973-11-11

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Page Four
mmmrinrmum -ana "-PRESENT THIS COUPON wom --m-mmemmm
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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, November 11,,1973 '

BOO-KS

MIXED BAG
Barthelme: Defying
frnrdifirnril U ndrlcriep

GENEEN

& Co.

Dealing, duplicity and deception:

A chilling story of UT

1 1 fr -\/ 1 1 1 E 1%04 1
SADNESS, by Donald Barthelme.
New York: Farrar, Straus and
IGiroux, 183 pages.
By EUGENE ROBINSON
ESPITE THE contradictions
inherentin this statement, it's
true: Donald Barthelme can al-
ways be depended upon to be an
innovator. His work has become
predictable in its unpredictability,
and it has become a rule of
thumb that his next story or book
will be nothing like the last.
Barthelme' s chameleon - like
approach to writing seems not to
be his way of groping for the
right style or the right themes.
Rather it is a conscious effort to
be different, a denial of the le-
gitimacy of sameness. Over the
years in his stories, published in
the New Yorker and in his own
volumes, have found many good
styles and many good themes.
But as yet, none has significantly
slowed his pace of innovation.
Any distillation of Barthelme's
overall style would have to ignore
at least some of his work. But it
can fairly be said that his stories
are generally non-linear, depend-
ing not so much on a coherent
plot as on little snippets of ev-
eryday life for their effect. Most
of them flit like a firefly amidst
a forest of ideas, shedding a bit
of illumination here and a bit
there until finally a pattern emer-
ges.
THE FRUITS of experimenta-
tion are many, but so are its
perils. Barthelme fittingly reaps
both in his latest book of short
stories, Sadness. He alternately
shines like the beacon of a light-

r-r .r I I % - I I v
house and stinks like rotting New
England cod.
Barthelme is at his best when
dealing with the ponderous bum-
mer of just trying to maintain
"noromal" and "healthy" human
relationships. The first story in
the collection, Critique de la Vie
Quotidienne, is a sterling exam-
ple. He leads his two characters
through the traumas of marriage,
children and divorce, and finally
into unhappy isolation and loneli-
ness. The Barthelme twist is that
he tells the story in a style that
is outrageously funny. There is a
wonderful juxtaposition of emo-
tions: The reader giggles and
guffaws through the story's lit-
tle puns and ironies, realizing
only at the end that all along he
has been reading a tragedy.
If there is a theme to this col-
lection of stories, it must be this
unholy merging of comedy and
tragedy. It pops up in Perpetua,
another amusing story of an un-
happy marriage that ends in an
even unhappier divorce; in De-
partures, a collection of bitter-
sweet goodbyes; and in The Ge-
nius a hilarious take-out on a
man who is blessed" and cursed
with talents considered exception-
al.
PERHAPS THE most successful
piece in the entire collection
is The Sandman, written in the
form of a letter from a man to
his lover's psychiatrist. The story
is a near-perfect comment on the
current human condition, Ameri-
can style. The most significant
aspect of the story is its happy
ending, which amounts to a re-

UAC presents
HOLIDAY BOINANZA

jection of our neurotic modern
values: The hapless letter-writ-
er's lover, it seems, has decided
to spend her money on a new
piano rather than the continued
services of her shrink.
When Barthelme is bad, hap-
pily not often in this collection, he
is very, very bad. Stories like
The Temptation of St. Anthony
and The Flight of Pigeons from
the Palace try hard, but fail al-
most completely. These stories
are Barthelme at his most ex-
perimental, attempting to braek
through traditional boundaries of
fiction. They can hardly be call-
ed stories at all, in any classical
sense, but neither do they fit
any other available definition.
Barthelme discards traditional
notions of theme and character,
but has nothing with which to
replace them.
FOR NOW we have a book
which is three-quarters suc-
cessful. If Barthelme can ever
infuse his most experimental
stories with the kind of life and
dimension he has his other work,
he will surely stand as one of the
world's leading modern fiction
figures.,

THE SOVEREIGN STATE OF
ITT By Anthony Sampson. New
York: Stein and Day, ??? pages,
$10.00.
By CHUCK WILBUR
t I 0 MINDERBINDER is
alive and well and working
for ITT. Few readers will miss
the comparison between Anthony
Sampson 's portrait of the Inter-
national Telephone and Tele-
graph Co. and Joseph Heller's
Catch 22. But perhaps the com-
parison is unfair,' for even Milo's
mind would boggle at the du-
plicity revealed in this book.
Like Milo, ITT, an American
corporation, refused to let the
second world war stand in the
way of its international busines..
This "open-minded" attitude cre-
ated a situation in which "ITT
Focke-Wulf planes were bombing
allied ships, and ITT lines were
passing information to German
submarines," while "ITT direc-
tion finders were saving (Allied)
ships from torpedos."
War is risky business, how-
ever, and ITT took its share of
lumps. Its German holdings, in=
cluding the Focke-Wulf bomber
f a c t o r y suffered considerable
damage from the Allied air cam-
paign. The financial blow was
softened, however, by the $27
million the corporation won from
the government in a suit over
bomb damage inflicted on its
holdings during the war. Milo
eat your heart out.
ITT'S ROLE in World War II is
one of many amazing accounts
which make the Sampson book

TO

S

U

FIRST TIME EVER

SONESTA BEACH

HOTEL &
GOLF CLUB

'60s POLITICS
The movement: A self-indulgent memoir

read like a corporate theatre of
the a b s u r d. Sovereign State
traces the development of ITT
from its origins as a small
Puerto Rican telephone company
to the recent government scan-
dals involving the corporation.
It is the story of Sothenes Behn,
the founder of ITT, who accord-
ing to Sampson "gave the com-
pany the reckless spirit which
has never left it." It was Behn's
"chameleon business philosophy"
that created ITT's unique war-
time position.
Following Behn' s retirement in
1956 Harold G e n e e n became
ITT's new president. Under Ge-
neen's leadership, the conglomer-
ate has risen to the number 11
spot among the world's multi-
national corporations, with an-
nual sales totallingnover $7 bil-
lion. While Geneen expanded
ITT's overseas h olId in gs, his
main accomplishment has been
the enlargement of the corpora-
tion's Ame r i ca n operations.
Through a series of mergers, ITT
absorbed Avis Rent-a-car, Shera-
ton Hotels and many smaller
companies. Federal anti-trust ac-
tion, however, blocked ITT's
merger with the A m e r i c a n
Broadcasting Co. in 1967. A sim-
ilar attempt to check ITT's
growth in 1970 led to the scandal
that has earned the corporation
much of its current nortoriety.
THE STORY, of ITT's merger
with the Hartford Insurance
group makes up the lion's share
of Sovereign State. The intricate
details of corruption and abuse
of power Sampson provides defy
summarization. What is apparent
is that ITT, through a variety
of means, sought to stop anti-
trust action against its merger
with the Hartford. Among these
means was the corporation's
pledge of $400,000 to help bring

s power
the 1972 Republican convention
to San Diego, Richard Nixon's
favorite city.
Evidence linking the favorable
treatment ITT received from the
Justice Department's anti-trust
division to corruption in the Nix-
on administration is still coming
to light. Even without this new
evidence, Sampson provides a
fascinating and essentially sound
picture of ITT's ability to bend
government to its will.
Sampson also reveals the be-
hind the scenes story of how ITT
attempted to use American for-
eign policy to protect its interests
in Chile. Fearful of the election
of Marxist Salvadore Allende as
Chilean president, the company
pledged up to a million dollars
to help the CIA prevent the elec-
tion of a socialist government.
Negotiations between ITT and
the CIA were not difficult, since
John McCone, former head of
the CIA, now sits on the ITT
board of directors while simul-
taneously serving as a consul-
tant to the secret intelligence
agency.
Throughout The Sovereign State
of ITT Sampson vividly portrays
the personalities and policies that
have made ITT the corporate
Frankenstein it is today. Where
his book falls short, however, is
in analyzing political economy
that has created the giant multi-
national corporations. He ex-
presses doubts whether any gov-
ernment can control the huge
conglomerates while the crucial
question is whether any West-
ern government really wants to
curtail their actiivties.
The reason for this reluctance
may lie in the fact that the multi-
nationals represent the most ef-
ficient means for a nation to
exert its economic muscle
abroad, particularly in pene-
trating the developing economies
of the third world.
SAMPSON EMPHASIZES that
the sheer size and strict plan-
ning of the multi-nationals has
made them oblivio'is to the hu-
man element in their operations.
Here he clearly misses the mark.
ITT's size and efficient planning
are merely a means to an end:
huge profits.aIt isthe fiever end-
ing pursuit of this financial goal
that has led ITT to regard gov-
ernments as useless stumb~ling
b 1 o c k s or acquiescent junior
partners, while relegating human
happiness to nothing more than
a potential byproduct of its
empire.
Chuck Wilbur is-an editorial
page staff writer for The daily.

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BLOOD DUES By Dotson Rader.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 211
pages, $6.95.
By TONY SCHWARTZ
T HAS BEEN three years since
Kent State and the invasion
of Laos - events that perhaps
symbolized the last gasping hur-
rah of the student movement. The
death symbols abound. Most of
the Chicago 7, it was learned re-
cently, have turned away from
political action. Four per cent
of the University of Michigan
campus votes for student govern-
ment and even a tuition strike
can't get off the ground. To say
activism is at a standstill has al-
most become a cliche.
For now, a tendency toward
reflection seems to have set in.
Former activists, clever exploit-
ers and historians are all at work
trying to put some of the dec-
ade's events into perspective, to
dissect the movement in such a
way that both its early power
and its later demise become
comprehensible.
Dotson Rader's Blood Dues is
one of the first of a spate of
'movement' books which will
surely spill forth in the coming
months. Rader's credentials are
impressive: more than half a
decade as a leader of the anti-
war leftamuch of it in SDS, both
as a Columbia University stu--

dent and later as a left-wing
writer.
Much as I'd like to understand
the rise and fall of a movement
which was made up largely of
friends and people my age, and
helpless as I feel to explain the
collapse to adults who look to me
for answers, I think I was predis-
posed to like Blood Dues. I
thought it might have the ans-
wers I didn't, could offer me an
insider's insight. The approach
seemed good: an attempt to in-
tertwine vivid personal experi-
ences of the divisiveness, confu-
sion and hypocrisy which vitiat-
ed the left's collective power,
with a more detached, theoretical
explanation of "What It All
Meant".
WELL IT didn't work. What
Rader spouts passionately
about the logic and theoretical
attraction of revolutionary vio-
lence rings hollow next to his
admissions of personal failure.
His explanation for that failure
-and implicity for the failure of
others - is pointed and graphic.
Rader says that insecurity about
sexuality and a tendency toward
violence were bound up inextric-
ably. Revolutionary violence was
merely the means to assert the
manhood one couldn't prove
sexually: "It was difficult to
posit manhood in America, for
the valuesthat corporate capi-
talism intruded into the culture
and the social institutions it cre-
ated were inhuman and anti-sex-
ual." This kind of violence -
which caused harm to people and
institutions merely to satisfy

one's own neurotic needs - be.
came terribly difficult for Rader
to justify.
But what made it more diffi-
cult to justify was the related
insight: "I was not born a vic-
tim of America, and yet I need-
ed the existence of victims ab-
solutely in order to make rebel-
lion to become a man. And if
there were no victims and no op-
pressor class, I would have to
create them."
Rader's cause is admirable, but
what impact the effort might
have held is badly compromised
by his driving need to find yet
another macho role to replace
the one -as revolutionary - that
he here gives up. Rader is at
such pains to make Blood Dues
a writer's masterpiece that he
drowns genuine feeling in grat-
ingly self-conscious style.- He has
figured out too well how to come
up smelling like roses, how to ex-
pose vulnerabilities while simul-
taneously cataloguing strengths.
And all of this is done amid long
conversations with the superstars
of the sixties. Rader's offhand,
and perhaps unintentional name-
dropping, runs the gamut from
.Jacob Javits to Abbie Hoffman,
Tennessee Williams to Paul
Goodman, and Andy Warhol to
Norman Mailer.
THE IMAGE Rader paints of
sitting opposite Tennessee
Williams ("I had known (him)
for a long time, we were close
friends . . ."), writing together
from dawn till noon, isn't going
to make us believe, by analogy,
that Rader is a writer on Wil-

liams' level. He's not. Nor will
he be seen in Norman Mailer's
intellectual light by saying, in
his painfully understated man-
ner, "So Mailer and I argued
about history and about the po-
litical uses of violence." The
writing in Blood Dues is so pur-
posely tormented, stylistically re-
petitive and perhaps unconscious-
ly pretentious that it ends by hav-
ing the opposite effect Rader al-
most surely desired: a sense of
unreality.
Rader does not finally attend
to the political reasons for the
movement's downfall, except to
mention, in passing, the most
obvious ones-police repression,
division in the camp, outnumber-
edness. Nor does he look in a
systematic way at the progres-
sion of his personal feeli'ngs. In-
stead he depends on flashy styl-
istic images and antecdotes to
tell his story.
Despite the failures, there are
flashes of insight and some well
written passages here. Divorced
from the intense need to prove
himself as writer, Rader's book
might have been both more read-
abl and more rigorously con-
ceiv'ed.
To RADER'S defense-and to
the defense of many Water-
gate-saturated former activists
who are a bit disillusioned and
baffled by it all, the last impo-
tent message in Blood Dues
speaks graphically to the diffi-
culty Rader must have had in
saying anything substantative, in
retrospect, about the experience
of the sixties:
"I have learned one thing of
importance to me-one has to
act-write-against what is hlirt-
ful to one's friends. And its co-
rollary: there is little one can
do to much effect in any case."

J

I

POT POU RRI
Notes about a happy
children's magazine

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Featuring the newest book by the inventor of the
geodesic domes THE DYMAXION WORLD OF BUCKMINSTER FULLER

"CRICKET, THE MAGAZINE
FOR' CHILDREN", Clifton Fadi-
man, senior editor; Open Court
Publishing Company, La Salle,
Illinois; volume 1, number 1, 96
pages. $1.25.
By PATRICE RINALDO
I HAVE SEEN only this first
.issue of "Cricket" but if the
others bear even a crude resem-
blance, it will be an important
crusader for the ever-struggling
cause of literature. It is funny,
and moral and beautifully done.
Some impressive features: poems

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Grow We Must
By
HARVEY WOOD, C.S.B.
-A CHRISTIAN SCIENCE LECTURE-
scinso~red hby

by T. S. Eliot and Nikki Giovanni,
book reviews, talking insects
that say things like, "Yeah man"
and "far out", and a wonderful
editor's note"that recommends
reading the stories out loud with
the family.
So, who wants to be bothered
with morals? I do, when they are
the kind that "Cricket" teaches.
For example, one musthave an
open mind, and accept the char-
acteristics that make one human,
such as fear and sadness. One
must have a sense of humor, and
a keen awareness of life's pri-
vate pleasures - such as little
bigs, one's own special place,
poetry. And one must respect
oneself.
All this comes across in an es-
say about the drums of Africa, a
plea for news of readers' fears as
well as the smell of their favorite
holidays, a dialogue among bugs
in which it is learned that black,
brown and white (shedding cric-
kets are beautiful - and so is a
polka dotted ladybug. Gwendolyn
Brooks writes a poem called
"Rudolph Is Tired of the City".
There are nonsense rhymes and a
very silly story about a man who
saves his farm from drought by
popping his onions (they're "A
little smaller'n a cow shed") so
the "skeeters" (you use chicken
wire to keep 'em away) will cry.
There are mudpie. recipes and
young reader contributions.
YOU MAY wonder why I am re-
viewing a children's magazine
in a college paper. The answer
is just this: The time to turns

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