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September 14, 1975 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1975-09-14

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Rage Four


Sunday, September 14, 1975

Page Four ThE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday, September 14, 1975



Portrait of an urban murder:
A slick but shallow stereotype

Merce Cunningham: Insisting
upon independence for dance

BAR, by Judith Rossner. New
York: Simon and Schuster;
250 pp., $7.95.
HERE IS a rumor abroad
that Judith Rossner wrote
Looking for Mr. Goodbar to
make money, having tired of the
critical success but financial
failure which met her first three
novels. Certainly Looking for
Mr. Goodbar is the stuff of
which best-sellers are made: it
is based on the sensational mur-
der of a New York schoolteach-
er; it boasts a sexually aware
female protagonist, plenty of ex-
plicit sex scenes, and a flashy,
easy-to-follow style.
Yet despite its gratifying fi-
nancial success, Looking for
Mr. Goodbar is generally un-
satisfying. Its style and lan-
guage, though catchy, are em-
pty; one fails to care very deep-
ly about any of the characters
owing to the undifferentiated,
stereotypical v e r b i a g e they
speak. Told in the third person,

but from the main character's
point of view, the novel often
slides into what is supposed to
constitute a stream-of-conscious-
ness narrative; unfortunately,
it succeeds only in looking and
reading like a bunch of sen-
tence fragments strung together
into a paragraph. The overall
effect is little better than awk-
THERESA DUNN is the cen-
tral character. She is, at the
time of her murder, leading a
rather bizarre double life: she
teaches first grade on New
York's Lower East side during
the day and "whores around in
bars" at night. It becomes clear
after the first-and by far the
best-section of the novel that
Theresa Dunn has long had two
distinct personalities. Until she
contracted polio as a young
child, Tessie was imaginative,
uninhibited, and happy. After
the polio cleared up, Theresa
gained several pounds along
with a marked tendency toward
depression. Further family dif-t

ficulties help to disjoint The-
resa's personality while serving
to highlight her alienation.
Rossner is at her best in this
first section of the book. Subtly
and surely, she delineates the
air of depression and grim rig-
idity which characterizes the
Dunn household during There-
sa's adolescence. In fact, it is
in this section alone that we are
able to sympathize with the
pain, confusion, and isolation
felt by the ungainly Theresa.
novel's first section, how-
ever, Rossner finds herself in a
bind. The two halves of The-
resa's personality, at best only
tenuously connected, here split
almost entirely.
Rossner's bind is simply that
she has chosen to deal with
Theresa, the character with no
reality. We as readers can
easily peg Miss Dunn and Terry
because both are unabashed
stereotypes. But Theresa, the
victim of the murder, the non-
personality Rossner has chosen

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to create, remains an enigma.
mise on which Looking for
Mr. Goodbar is based is an in-
triguing one. Take what ap-
nears to be a rather ritual ur-
ban murder: woman picks up
man in bar, takes him home,
and ends up smothered. Then
look at the particulars: in this
case, an unexpected double life.
Finally, speculate about the vic-
tim's background, create for her
a past, draw in the lines and
angles which will finally-per-
haps inexorably - culminate in
her helpless position as murder
victim. Whatever her reasons,
Rossner chose a universally
fasinating topic. She attempts
in her novel to answer a very
comnelling set of auestions: are
murderers and their victims re-
lated in some way, are they
drawn to on another is there
something more than random
had luck which causes an erup-
tion of violence? Or is there
some articular aspect of char-
acter which sets uno murderers
and their victims? Sadly, the
novel fails to answer any of
these onestions; it cannot even
begin to do so with so incom-
plete and implausible a heroine.
Structurally Rossner's novel is
sound. Beginning with a tran-
script of the murderer's confes-
sion, it proceeds circularly to
the murder itself. The last few
pages should by rights be mar-
vellously tense . and so they
would be if only Theresa her-
self were a fuller, and thus
more interesting, character. As
it is, we are simply relieved to
have finally arrived at the end.
OOKING for Mr. Goodbar
purports to be a psychologi-
cal study of the people and
events who add up eventually to
murder. However, in order to
be interesting, thrilling or even
plausible, such a work must in-
volve characters who are psy-
chologically interesting. By pop-
ulating her novel with stereo-
types and a confusing heroine
who remains undefined through-
out, Rossner has defeated her
own purpose.
Debra Hurwitz is a mem-
ber of the Daily Editorial

ed by James Klosty, New
York: Saturday Review Press,
E.P. Dutton & Co., 217 pp.,
The Saturday Evening Post
cover featured a solemn face
split vertically by chalk white
and red makeup and the ques-
tion: "Who Is This Man?" When
Merce Cunningham passed his
likeness staring out at him from
a neighborhood news stand, he
said he didn't recognize it. Nei-
ther did his mother, who as-
sumed the face belonged to
But scattered around the globe
in national capitals and obscure
towns and on innumerable col-
lege campuses, that face is
known. It belongs to Merce
Cunningham: dancer, choreog-
rapher, teacher and director of
his own company. And to give
an answer to the question "Who
Is This Man?" is no easy task.
The Saturday Evening Post cer-
tainly didn't do it. And, unfor-
tunately, this volume of tributes
and photographs, for all its ex-
tensiveness and good intentions,
never quite manages the job
Several of Cunningham's col-
laborators have contributed sen-
timental, adoring tributes. The
pieces include a recollection of
the company's history by Paul
Taylor and New York City Bal-
let Director Lincoln Kirstein,
and a rumination by composer
John.Cage on touring with the
Cunningham company. Several
dancers who have worked with
Cunningham have written ap-
preciations, but only Carolyn
Brown's thoughtful memoir cap-
tures something of the essence
of Cunningham and the experi-
ence of sharing his work for
twenty years. Editor Klotsky in-
troduces the book with his own
thorough-going essay on Cun-

ningham's aspirations and re- E pendent of the other, that the
bellious achievements. two have nothing arbitrarily in
common but custom, that their
CUNNINGHAM'S revolution, combination is less necessity
begun in the early 1950's was than reflex, and that they can
undertaken not to startle or to be advantageously freed of one
scandalize, but to discover a another's syntax.
way of working comfortable for! Cunningham proceeded to de-
his personality and compatible velop a choreography and a
with his personal vision. His technique based on the kinetic
ideas were not unique. They integrity of the body uncon-
were shared by friends: com- strained by the rhythmic, mel-
nosers (John Cage, Earle odic or formal proposals of an
Brown, Morton Feldman, Chris- external music. He turned dance
tian Wolff): and painters (Rob- back upon itself, focusing on its
ert Rauschenberg, J a s p e r primary component: each move-
Johns, etc.). But the ideas were ment as an atomic gesture in
not shared by his compatriots in time. He felt that dancing need
the world of dance. In fact, not concern itself with narrative
Cunningham's ideas were anti- nor with philosophical, psycho-
thetical to commonly held con- logical or mythic pretensions.
cepts of serious dancing, to Presumably if one danced, and
many ideas of classical ballet danced well, that ought to be
and particularly to the aesthetic enough - both for the dancer
of Martha Graham, in whose and for his audience.
company Cunningham's career To ballet's virtuosity and
had begun. grace, he added the possibility
Cunningham was urged to of awkwardness - a quality
leave Graham by John Cage, that has always intrigued him -
who was soon to become Amer- and his choreography is the first
ica's most controversial com- to honor equally the graceful
poser. The two men gave sev- and the timid.
eral concerts together in the
1940's, and when Cunningham E DITOR KLOSTY claims that
began to assemble his own com- Merce Cunningham is not a
pany of dancers, Cage did what- "dance book". And why is a
ever had to be done to keep the book about a dance company
company going. At one time or not a dance book? Most prob-
another he has been its program ably the answer has to do with
designer, agent, pianist, compos- the editors' intentions, which
er, chauffeur, food gatherer, im- may be found in the large pho-
pressario, apologist, fund rais- tographic section at the end of
er, chef d~e cuisine, comedian the book.
and spiritual mentor. If Klosty's purpose was to doc-
Cunningham's association with ument or illustrate Cunning-
Cage was as much an idea as ham's dances, it was not
it was a fact. Their working to- achieved. Thus the most im-
gether brought forth a new aes- portant reason why the book is
thetic holding that dance is finally less than successful: The
dance and music is music - an union of dancing and photogra-
aesthetic so simple that few phy has always seemed an ill-
were able to accept it with fated marriage of opposites. The
equanimity. images it spawns are often
beautiful, but what has to be
POTH MEN SHARED the be- asked is what one can learn
lief that neither dance nor from them either about dancing
-mIsic need function as a de- or choreography.


We consider d a n c e photog-
raphy successful when it de-
stroys time at precisely the
right moment. Dancing is about
something beyond the syntacti-
czl ability of graphic images to
describe. It is about qualities of
movement. Not the shape of
movement bt the quality of
movement. While photography is
literAly a' timeless art-what's
left when time is taken away-
dancing's very being is time.
The essence of its art is the
linking of seconds into a lan-
guage. and without time it is as
meaningless as sculoture with-
out density or poetry without

always been a subject of
conjecture, a mystery, not only
to critics, other artists and the
nuiblic, bt to the company he
calls his own. For over twenty
veers his energy has been dic-
hotmonmos, distinct in nature and
in unonse: partly radiant-cat-
alvving ideas and practices with-
in the arts, and partly insular-
seate-erin a otivate man,
even from those few with whom
he works intimately day by day.
And desnite the combined knowl-
adze and the wealth of feeling
that those who know him have
Given to this volume, Merce
Cu1-nini~ham remains a hidden,
Qnicrn-ti man.
Mary Long is an editor of
the Sunday Magazine.


111 I Jli . liLL61 li.t11L i1 V;; f.tU K

.. .. . .. ..-o - r

Woody Allen chuckles through
the world of existential dread

Woody Allen. New York: Ran-
dom House, 210 pp. $7.95.

mostly in The New Yorker-'
have been regular gems of hi-
larity. We now have Withouti

with the cosmic opening: "There
is no question that there is an
unseen world. The problem is,

Feathers, his second collection how far is it from midtown and
By THOMAS FIELD of these magazine 'casuals' with how late is it open."; from "The
THANK GOD for Woody Allen. a few new bits thrown in. Allen Notebooks," "Should I
When most of us are pitted ,N HIS VARIOUS o u t p u t s' marry h? Not if she won't tell
against the highly mechanized, Woody Allen has unfailingly me the other letters in her
atsophisticated, Futureh projected the persona of the er ca-
Shockish society around us, we ninety-pound weakling constant- o ereHocan I asgive p the
shrink away i a cloud of be- ly having sand kicked in his Roller Derby? Decisions ..";
wilderment and insecurity. But face by Contemporary America. and an Allenian proverb, "Who-
not Woody Allen. He has that Befuddled by gadgets, baffled soever loveth wisdom is right-
ability to look unflichingly into by the unknown, bewildered by us t h kht-
the face of existential dread- the somber offerings of intel- eous but he that kee com-
and make funny faces at it. lectuals and lusting for sexual pany with fowl is weird."
Allen, now 40, has used almost encounter but petrified by the TN HIS BEST pieces, Allen
every aspect of the media over thought of committing himself shows just how well he can
the years to spread his fresh, to an actual involvement, Allen sustain his wit. He has that un-
madly inspired humor. For sev- appeals to that feckless, inse- canny knack for capturing per-
eral years he was a highly suc- cure creature residing more or fectly the style of a particular
cessful nightclub comic and, for- less in all of us. The title of his literary genre and then punc-
tunately, some of his perform- new book proclaims thi4 theme turing the story with his devas-
ances have been preserved on being a play on Emily Dickin- tatinglyhfunny jokes. "No Kad-
record. His plays have been son's line, "Hope is the thing dish for Weinstein" is a paro-
hits. Allen's seventh film, Love with feathers." dy of the Bellow-Malamud anti-
and Death-which he, as usual, Allen's brand of satire, rather hero, the intellectual, self-
wrote, directed and stars in- than cutting with a sharp, cruel doubting urban male. Laying in
has currently been cracking up edge, is wonderfully playful. But bed one morning, Weinstein ru-
audiences with its lampoonish it never fails to hit its mark. minates, "Look at me, he
look at War and Peace and re- His trump-card is the non- thought. Fifty years old. Half
lated themes. And Allen's short sequitur one-liner; the quick, a century. Next year I'll be
magazine p i e c e s-appearing unexpected banality juxtaposed fifty-one. Then fifty-two. Using
, ._______ - ,..,, _ ,,a ..^111.1

This is a Picture
He is sitting at a table. His arm
rests on the table. He is support-"
ing his head in his hand. He isa
having fun.-
Come to Centicore and Rap
He'll talk to you about anything from (Campbell's) Soup to (Joe D'Al-
lessandro's) Nuts. He also might try to sell you a copy "THE PHILOSO- 4
PHY OF ANDY WARHOL" From A to B and Back Again $7.95. And auto-
N+ graphed by the master.


i I

TODAY at 7:30 & 8:00
OPEN at 1:00
OFeon s P ~
FtIlM co

TODAY at 1-3-5-7-9
OPEN at 12:00
"A cross between
Love Story and
LastTango In Paris!"
-P/a yboy Maqazine
Open at 12:45
MON-TUES at 7 & 9:10
Open at 6:45
Due to contractual Obligations
Guest Night has been suspended

this same reasoning, he could
figure out his age as much as
five years in the future."
The best piece in the book is
certainly "The Whore of Men-
sa," a story done up as a Ray-
mond Chandler hard-boiler. Kai-
ser Lupowitz is the private eye
whose mission is to cracl a
certain brothel that caters to
men looking for intellectual en-
tertainment. His client, now be-
ing blackmailed, has been us-
ing the service for several
months, "I mean my wife is
great, don't getme wrong. But
she won't discuss Pound with
me. Or Eliot. I didn't know
that when I married her. See,
Ij need a woman who's men-
tally stimulating, Kaiser. And
I'm willing to pay for it. I don't'

want an involvement - I want
a quick intellectual experience,
then I want the girl to leave."
Infiltrating the organization,
Kaiser discovers that for three
hundred you can get the whole
works, "A thin Jewish brunette
would pretend to pick you up
at the Museum of Natural Art,
let you read her master's, get
you involved in a screaming
quarrel at Elaine's over Freud
conception of women, and then
fake a suicide of your choos-
Wfithout Feathers is not flaw-
less. The two theater-of-the-
absurdish one-act plays Allen
has included do not quite come
off. "God" hovers dangerously
close to self - parody and be-
comes hopelessly buried in its
own ridiculousness. "Death" is
a little better but its disturbing-
ly serious edge obscures the
humor. But the few imperfec-
tions can be excused. Allen con-
sistently strikes our funny bone
and his humor never seems to
wear thin, in any of its mani-
festations. He was recently pho-
tographed greeting Betty Ford
at a gala party given by the
First Lady, wearing, quite con-
spiculously, a pair of big, black
gym shoes. Woody Allen, it's a
comfort having you around.
Thomas Field is a senior
majoring in English.

The story
Buford Pusser wanted told..


ry i :.:... ?it n. tfDS :RF

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