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March 12, 1982 - Image 6

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-12

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Michras
UniversityActivities Center

ARTS

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Page 6 Friday, March 12, 1982- The Michigan Daily

SATURDAY
MARCH 13

8:00 p.m,-
1:00 a.m.

Kosinski rings low on 'F

By James Clinton

MICHIGAN UNION
$2.50
CASINO, BAND: "WHIZ KIDS,"
ENTERTAINMENT, ARCADE, FOOD,
DRINKS, AND MUCH MORE! !!!

l

K OSINSKI'S LATEST novel, Pin-
ball, bears startling similarities to
it's predecessors, in content, style and
form. No doubt it will prove pleasing to
the author's cult audience, as that
seems to be it's sole intention. Unfor-
tunately, it's a weak and despairing
book, that essentially maps the hazards
indiginous to the author's route. Predic-
tably, the emphasis is on the sadistic
and it stretches to the maximum man's
indifference and cruelty to man.
Goddard is the eccentric hero of this
work, a rock 'n' roll star who conceals
his identity with a hideously preventive
zeal. The search to penetrate the man's,
identity is the ambition of an obscure
composer and his debauched girlfriend.
Obviously, the surface action and
premise are less than original, however
the dual identity sets up a number of
intriguing subplots and interesting am-
biguities in the main character. The
strain of anxiety that permeates the
underside of adulation is nicely con-
veyed, certainly it's augmented by our
own knowledge of yesterday's
headlines.
Yet, Kosinski belabors the
frightening aspects of such a dichotomy
as if it's an original idea. He even in-
vokes the ghosts of Jimi Hendrix and
John Lennon, lest we not get the point.
Actually, this book is a veritable
smorgasbord of cultural symbols such

as Chopin, Yeats, Auden and James
Joyce. The increasing tendency to den-
sely populate the pages of a book with
other artists is becoming annoying. The
popular misconseption is that by
assigning an artist a position in the
narrative, the reader's accessibility to
strategems of locality and inspiration
will be increased. In Ragtime it
worked, here it is preponderously out of
place.
Kosinski is an interesting novelist,
however inflated his reputation. In this
book, he has done his leg work; his ob-
vious knowledge and passion for music
places him in a milieu well within his
resources. The descriptions of the
musical, scenes are by far the most
rewarding sections of the novel. But he
gets into trouble, as usual, by the
severity and one-dimensional servings
of contemporary life.
The search for Goddard becomes an
excuse for plunging headfirst into the
seamy underlife of American life. It's
little more than an unrelenting journey
through the sewer of modern experien-
ce, with continued detailing of man at
his most vile. These scenes are starkly
lit and enveloped in a purplish,
colloquial prose that is more cinematic
than literary. The hideeous surface and
extremity of violent details reminded
me of The Warriors; an operatic sur-
face exploding with violence, yet vapid
at the core.
In Kosinski's work, lovers debase one
another with regularity, bestial
inevitabilities lurk in the shadows and
it's all delivered with prose as tiresome
and autonomous as the action it depicts.
Too frequently the message is pleasure
without beauty, observation devoid of
reason, and most importantly, pain

without any possibility of redemption.
Kosinski's journey limits the viable
possibilities of his characters. By
exaggerating conditions to the point of
hallucination, in a desperate attempt to
reveal the futility of our lives. he has
boxed himself into a metaphysical cor-
ner. It's a perilous course for any
novelist to take unless he is a Genet or
Cheever.
Certainly, Kosinski has never
demonstrated an ability to shape the
decomposition of form into art. Once
again he leads us to the sewer and poin-
ts. While his descriptive power ac-

Pin ball
Jerzy Kosinski
Bantam; 287 pages

'inbali'
frequently emerge as mechanized
degenerates, who are without personal
angst, because little guilt penetrates
their actions. Needless to say, thi4
results in a dark and foreboding
outlook.
In his first three novels Kosinski gav
every indication of being a heavy hitter'
It was interesting to see how confuse4
and distorted the American condition
was to one who possessed an ostensibly
"iron curtain" sensibility. His off-beat
handling of the ugly side of our ex;
perience was of genuine interest. Ever,
the violent angularity of his prose vta4
well suited to the disturbing
brushstrokes he set down. Often he
achieved a delicate balance betwen
the primitive world and man's
inhumanity to man.
Along the way it seems he's los a
great deal of curiosity in his art and MW
given himself over entirely to what his
audience expects.. He is no longer a
heavy hitter, but is content to bunt his:
way on base. He has stopped swinging
for the fences and appears content in
his role as a cross between Kafka and
Sidney Sheldon.
The message in this novel, as in his'
recent books seems to be "Let's take a:
good look and then get out the razor;
blades." To yield to the territorial im-
perative in his work is to breathe the,
stagnant air of defeat. He seems,
hideously incapacitated by hiso'bseri
vations, like a tired soldier galloping:
through the darkness, on a blind horse,
into the eternity of his wounds. Pinball
is a sad and disturbing work by an.
author who'd be better served to forget
the desires of his peculiar cult and
begin writing with what Henry Miller
called "the wisdom of the heart."

curately opens up the abyss, we can
only stare into it, rather than observing
from within the interior and fastening a
heighened perception. We can't view
the process because his characters lack
the temperment and spiritual reserves
necessary for the journey.-
As a writer;Kosinski is frequently be-
trayed by his own limitations. He lacks
the prose strenth and spiritual insight
to unlock the key to his characters
psychic torment. The people he creates
act out of neurotic predisposition and

Records

David Thomas and
Pedestrians-'The Sound of
Sand and Other Songs of
Pedestrian' (Rough Trade)

the
the
the

Given the backgrounds of the
collaborators on this LP (Pere Ubu,
Young Marble Giants, Lounge Lizards,
Henry Cow, just to name a few), you
would rightfully expect an eclectic mix-
ture of the most unlikely sounds..
However, nothing could fully prepare
you for the worlds (this one and others)
cruise represented on this LP.
But with David Thomas (lead singer
for Pere Ubu) as tour guide, the only
thing you really need to count on is that
this musical exploration won't be un-
dertaken as some drily academic
treatise. Thomas has a way of skipping
wantonly and merrily through a grab-

bag of genres, playfully spilling avant-
garde jazz into African percussion and
mischievously dragging simple rock
and roll through the territory of the
most ungodly distortion. All of this he
does with a child-like cheeriness that
invites the listener into the mischief in-
stead of making one simply the
recipient of paternalistic, pedantic lec-
ture..
It should be abundantly clear,
though, that trying to describe a
musical work like this is inappropriate,
if not antithetical to the work itself. No
matter what your.expectations for The
Sound of Sand, they are sure to be
trashed. Obviously, the best way to ap-
proach this album is un-
prepared-ready only to be dragged
along just for the fun of it. So, please
remember this review (if at all) only

fA1
~ftI7

J-M SchoOl of Music

Dance
Company
MarCh 19-21
at the Power Center

long enough to get near a copy of The
Sound of Sand. I think you'll know what
to do from there.
-Mark Dighton0
Kano-'New York
Cake' (Mirage-Atlantic)
Kano are an. excellent example of)
something I have come to 'call"
Foreigner Syndrome" (no relation to
the rock band of the same name). What
T.F.S. means to me (What does T.F.S.
mean to you?) is that foreigners often
have the distance to appreciate and in-
corporate trends in American music in
ways that would never seem possible on
home turf.
The British, especially, seem to have
an unerring knack for tapping the ex-
citement of Black American music.
There have been other good examples,
though. Germany's Vic Vergat takes
the overkill ethos of heavy metal to new
heights of sublime absurdity. Japan's
Sheena and the Rokkets appreciate the
trashier nuances of girl-group pop like
no one else (save perhaps Joan Jett).
And Italy's Kano provide a unique
viewpoint on modern dance music.
What Kano achieves that most others
wouldn't even attempt is a synthesis of
pop-funk, Eurodisco, and disco. For ob-
vious reasons, their forte is Eurodisco.
Unfortunately, nothing on NY Cake is
quite as synthetically surreal as "It's a
War" or "I'm Ready" off the last
album, but at least "Don't Try to Stop
Me" is an impressive try.
Their pop-funk is a bit on the thin
side, though. Most of the time it sounds
only like Chic with a slightly harder
edge. At the worst, it simply refers to
some of the more disappointingly ob-
vious popular trends of the day (Kool &
the Gang's pap-funk, etc.).
But I guess you have to take thegood
with the bad on an album of such difer-
sity. And when they're good, Kano
sono molto bravi, brother.
-M .

Tickets at PT-*
in the Michigan
7A4-0450

-eague

Wih Sounds 01
Rock and azz

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