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November 02, 1975 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-02

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page Four


Sunday, November Z, 1915

- M"ichaels: Hi new kind oI Jewish hero


I WOULD HAVE SAVED the bestseller lists. Though the reading. When one is finally con- hand, revels in his perversity.
THEM IF I COULD, by Leon- ) big three have each taught us to vinced that the mythical Jewish He exalts it. Michaels has flip-
ard Michaels. Farrar, Straus think of Jews in different ways, mother is no myth, then reading ped to the other side of the mo-
and Giroux. New York, 1975, the characters in the novels of yet another one with an M.D. I ern coin, and in Liebowitz has
188 pp. seem to have an awed nature fixation becomes as tiresome as presented us with Portnoy
By BRUCE WEBER in coimon. If victimized is not an old joke. The fact is, though, brought out of his shell, brought
the way to speak of them, then that the Jewish mother is a jus- up to date. After all, Portnoy
pHERE SEEMS to have arisen cowed is maybe better. The wise tifiably generalized character, was cooky as hell inside his
a peculiar genre in fiction and sympathetic airs that sur- and that the New York Jewish i head. Here we have him inside
that consists of books written by round the Jews of Bellow and experience itself, is also, in out.
The about contempdrary Jews. Malamud in addition have the many ways generalizable. This 10/ICHAELS' WRITING is of-
The present niche has been car- weight of age clinging to them creates a distinct disadvantage I ten as frantic as his char-
ved by three major writers - -they are like fathers speaking for the Jewish writer, namely, acters. He packs numerous
Bellow, Malamud, and Roth - -which has separated them that to write about his back- wild-eyed impressions into sin-
though a few others like Chaim from the novels of Roth. Roth's groind means facing up to an gle paragraphs with short dec-
Potok, Bruce Jay Friedman, naturally younger perspective inevitable comparison with Phil- larative sentences, and so when
andGail Parent have certainly has created a kinkiness that has in Roth. I found myself objecting now
adhered to the current image not only been emulated by other t EONARD MICHAELS, a na- and then to individual senten-
and gained a stranglehold, if young Jewish writers, but has tive New Yorker, a Jew. and ces as unclear or unrhythmic,
not on the review pages then on created a brand new stereotype. the same age as Philip Roth, is it was not often that the web of
-__ _ _Jewish writers of Roth's age a short story writer whose first them put . together was unillu-
and younger now suffer from the collected volume, Going Places, minating. The bluntness of the
reputation he established in was published in 1969. Going;prose relied too much on vio-
UniVersity of Michigan Goodbye, Columbus, Letting Go, Places marked a considerable lent abrupt verbs, like 'suck'
and most obviously Portney's departure from the placid char- and twist,' but in the end these
Complaint. Somehow, b e i n g acterization that came before it pinpoints were obscured by the
Jewish and from New York, in dealing with Jews. It is sharp- abruptness and the violence that
and having remembrances from lv sexual and surreal, a defec- was intended. Michaels is the
the 1950's pins a writer with a tion from the franjy sexuality of first writer I can think of who
commitment to a k i n d of Roth which is interior and re- makes Jews move fast. There
schmucky heroism, a heroism gressive. It is a wild book, full are incredible shifts of scene!
that comes from a pathetic mar- of jagged, brawling prose, de- and innumerable acts committed
tyrdom. Certainly, Neil Klug- ciredly Jewish and aggressively within only a few pages. It is
man and Paul Herz and Gabe citified. The recurring figure is exciting travelling. And again I
.Wallach and Alex Portnoy are a testy character named Phillip think of Roth and a noyel like
put upon, but by what? The ans- Liebowitz, who says of himself Letting Go where it takes pages
r wer is nothing grandiose - the in a story called "City Boy" in of thinking and rethinking and
problem that Roth deals with is # which he finds himself trapped arguing for actions to occur,
SUNION BALLROOM that his heroes never burrow out outside of his girlfriend's apart- actions which carry the charac-
from under their own psycholo- ment with no clothes on: ters deeper into their own inse-
gies. I needed poise. Without poise ; curity.
a , Unfortunately, this generaliza- the street was impossible . . In "The Captain," the final
PUm.Jtion of the contemporary Jew is I was a city boy. No innocent story in the collection, Liebowitz
not, I think, ill-placed. But after shitkicker from Jersey. I was and his wife attend a party giv-
a time it, does make for thin A train, the Fifth Avenue bus. en by a man with whom he
I could be a cop. My name hopes to land a prestigious job.
was Philip, my style New Confronted by the luxurious dec-
-COUPON- York City. adence they find there, the Lie-
In his new collection of stories ' bowitzes battle it with a spec-
GOOD ONLY THRU NOV. 6th nublished this last summer I tacular decadent display of their
Buy 1 Super SaladG ET 1 FR E Could, Michaels continues and velous scene in the taxicab that
extends his elevation of the takes them home. They have
toughness of city spirit, and in- just finished screwing in the
A large portion of fresh greens, tomatoes, cheese, jects Phillip with an extra shot back seat.
mushrooms cauliflower, olives and sprouts with our of venom. The sexuality becomes Her dear, lovely cheek on my
more rampant, and it yields to ; shoulder as I fingered sticky«
famous yogurt dressing. a kind of surreal violence; ilaepeigaa snls
NOT AVAILABLE FORakido surlvoene leaves, peeling away singles
NAfrightening but lucid, exagger- for the fare, twice as many
CARRY OUT ated but pointed, because Phillip for the tip. Mildred jerked.
manages always to get what he "Don't be a fool. We live in
Q Longevity Cookery wants. Phillip, with his vicious this town. Half as many for
zeal almost ceases to be a char- the tip."
314 E. Libertyacter and becomes instead a liv-XTATIRALLY, Lebowitz has
Mc.fing imagination. When Portney gotten the job, and Portnoy
Ann Arbor, Mich. fantasizes, he gives us all his would have left the higher tip.
(313) 662-2419*imagination in language, and he j
is so ashamed of it besides thatI
GOURMET NATURAL FOOD RESTAURANT be confesses all to a psychia- Brice Weber is a senior ma-j
1 In IM trist. Liebowitz, on the other jorin- in English.

Leonard AMich(.tis

se ernandes

and Other Stories
from the Portuguese
189 pp. Ne.w York:
The Vanguard Press $7.93
stated in an interview that
"... my characters really dic-

Late themselves to me. I am not
free of them, really, and can't
farce them into situations they
haven't themselves willed. They
have the autonomy of charac-
ters in a dream. It occurs to
tie that I am. really transcrib-
ing dreams."
d They are beautifully wrought
dreams. In The Poisoned Kiss,
her most recent collection of1
short stories, the dreams are
very close to the writing of
Borges, inasmuch as they re-
semble his strange, disturbing
fantasies surfacing from the
well of the unconscious mind.
The author relates in an after-
word how these "Fernandes"
stories came into being, how
in November of 1970 while she
was writing Wonderland thej
episodes simply "came out of
nowhere." Sensing distinctly the
origin and character of this guid-
ing presence, she chose to call
the influence Fernandes, the
Portuguese: "I was besieged by
Fernandes - story after story,
sorne of more than sketches or
nara rahs that tended to crowd'

extremely well - wrought tales.
Some are enigmatic, baffling
exercises like "The Seduction."
Some, like "Importence" and
"The Secret Mirror," have the
fleeting, bizarre and chillingly
low-key eroticism of Jerzy Ko-
sinski stories.
Of the good stories three are
inspired and worth rereading.
"Our Lady of the Easy Death
of Alferce" and "The Son of
God and His Sorrow" are min-
iature poetic dramas which cap-
ture the religious ethos of a
people: Catholicism among the
unlettered poor, religious ecsta-
sy, saints, miracles, the pe-
culiar kinship of suffering and
otherworldly distraction are
memorably rendered here in a
small space. "Plagiarized Mate-
rial" is the longest and most
complex of the stories. Its text-
ural allusiveness and brittle sus-
pense as a distingished man
of letters struggles against mad-
ness make it rewarding read-

ceii .i Pbb~E1~dNIrWUWSTSMVwWMVlfl

Eliminations 10 a.m.-Finals 5p.m.


ADMISSION:adults $1x
12 and under $.50
onom r-> mo<-oe- o<-y<--or->>e0

Probably not.All things considered you do
what you do pretty doggone well. After all, no one
has taken your job. And you're eating regularly.
But have you ever considered what doing your
job just a little better might mean?
Money. Cold hard coin of the realm.
If each of us cared just a smidge more about
what we do for a living, we could actually turn that
inflationary spiral around.Better products, better
service and better management would mean savings
for all of us. Savings of much of the cash and frayed
nerves its costingus now for repairs and inefficiency.
Point two..By taking more pride in our work
we'll more than likely see America regaining its
strength in the competitive world trade arena. When
the balance of payments swings our way again we'll
all be better off economically.
So you see-the only person who can really
do what you do any better is you.

oumy own writing.";THOUGH The Poisoned Kiss
is a further demonstration of
Automatic writing at the be- Oates's imaginative richness
hest of a strange ghost? Or and artistic versatility, it still
maybe an exercise designed and hears, unmistakably, her exis-
carried out in the interests of tential view of the world: peo-
fictional experimentation. At nle - her characters - live
any rate the twenty-two brief through terrifying events which
stories are uncharacteristic of they're unable to comprehend.
Oates's earlier work; the milieu Oates casts her nets over the
and manner .are unfamiliar ter- ordinary, often bewildering, ar-
rain. Most of the stories have ticles of everyday living and
the non-specific, timeless quali- draws in fascinating and frigh-
ty of parables, and the clear, tening treasure. Her latest book
quiet lyricism and haunting is a good, rather modest collec-
beauty of certain passages tion of fiction, and if the whole
heightens this impression. But isn't as polished and memor-
the pieces too often lack a cer-' able, as vividly conceived and
tain finish; the aesthetic idea rendered as something by, say,
is sketched and prettily suspend- Fanry O'Connor, it may be
ed in air, events happen in the n
random and insignificant way de to Alfred Kazin's judgment
of real life without apparent that ". . . her stories often seem
form or purpose. Character and 'written to relieve her mind of
conflict are attenuated and the people who haunt it, not
vague, often as ghostly as the to create something that will
add, exotic Fernandes persona. ve."
INDIVIDUALLY, the stories
are mostly forgettable wisps,
pleasing vignettes, and, in a Jim, Hll is a graduate stg-
few cases, carefully worked and 'dent in English.
FL RIDA: Daytona Beach
DEC. 20-29 or DEC. 27-JAN. 5
$119 $139
$285 /$299
9 NEW YORK (LaGuardia) -$79.73

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