Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 6, 1986
To Skin A Cat
By Thomas McGuane
New American Library, publisher.
Having received high critical
acclaim for such novels as The
Bushwacked Piano, Ninety-Two in
the Shade, Panama, and The
Sporting Club, Thomas McGuane
is undoubtedly one of the most
talented writers of his generation.
And yet the life which embodies
that talent has not gone untested.
Alcoholism, several divorces, acute
alienation, and poverty have at
times obscured his life and sense of
purpose, "to keep a finger on the
pulse of his generation." Ultimately
McGuane's strength of character has
prevailed. His latest work, To Skin
A Cat, is a collection of short
stories which not only records the
beating of the human heart, it
measures the heart's capacity to
withstand the brutalities of its own
In these stories McGuane has re -
tained his bizarre sense of humor as
a means of dealing with strife. In
"The Millionaire" Iris is a fifteen-
year-old pregnant girl who is forced
to relinquish her child to an elderly
couple, Mr. and Mrs. Anse.
"When Mrs. Anse smiled and
asked her question, Iris was ready.
'What was the young fellow like?'
'A real gorilla.'
'Have we mentioned Iris's
grades?' Betty asked. 'straight
Of course in the end, Iris hands
over the child because in these
stories the inevitable collision of
Although McGuane has achieved
critical success through his use of
grotesque humor, in these stories,
he has reached out for a new means
of presenting "the human heart
under fire." In "A Skirmish" and
"The Road Atlas", he recreates life's
painful moments with pity that
arises from a removed and
knowledgable perspective. The
breakdown of a man/woman
relationship in "The Road Atlas" is
"'You ought to come, Bill. But
I'm beginning to think you won't.'
'I'm going to miss you.'
reality reduces the
to a state of bitter
sarcasm, a McGuane
'I'm going to take the road atlas.
'You don't think I've just quit,
'I don't know whether you have
or not,' she said. 'But I can't.
Something's got to give."'
To Skin A Cat is more than a
fine collection of stories. It is a risk
taken by a writer still searching for
what makes life and its encounters
frustrating and enlightening. -If
strength is the product of struggle,
then these stories bulge with vigor.
John Russell Brown, artistic
director of Project Theatre,
announced that, due to strong ticket
sales, an additional performance of
Oedipus , by Sophocles, has been
scheduled for tonight at 8 p.m.
Oedipus is the classic drama:
depicting the great man's fall after
learning the secrets of his own
Brown has collaborated with;
various artists under the auspices of:
the School of Music. Peter Spar -
ling, of the Martha Graham Dancers-
coreographed the intricate move -u
ment of the chorus accompanied byo
the original music of grad student
Tickets for this additional per -
formance and remaining tickets for
other performances are available at
the League Ticket Office, Michigan
League Building, 911 N. Uni -
versity, in Ann Arbor. For more
information call:764-0450. Student
prices are available.
CLASSIF IED ADS! Call 764-0557 Serenade:
'A Little Night Music,' a MUSKET production, will open tonight for a three-night run at Power
Center. For tickets, contact the Michigan Union Box Office or any Ticket World outlet.
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Featuring Cannoli $1.25 and 1:30-
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Eye of the Zombie
Let's give John Fogerty credit..
He continues to show a willingness
to experiment with the big dance
beat and even the occasional funk
rhythm. The title track to his new
album, Eye of the Zombie, sounds
like a likely candidate for a dance re-
mix. Still, while while J. C.
pushes forward to embrace the new
sounds, the old onesngive him fits.
The low point on this record is
probably "Headlines," which teams
a guitar lurch that is painfully
reminiscent of Foghat with,
Fogerty's awkward approach to a
topical lyric. Both here, and on
"Violence is Golden," he spits out
heavy-handed bromides like a,
stamping press, losing any of the
topical impact he surey hoped to
Elsewhere, there's tepid New
Orleans soul ("Knockin' on Your
Door"), a passable attempt at funk
("Wasn't That a Woman"), a
tedious indictment of the star
stystem ("Soda Pop"), and a
pleasantly dreamy, if slight, closing
number ("Sail Away"). The only
real grabber on this record is some
bayou brew called "Change in the
Weather," which had the cohesive,
slow groove that won Fogerty his
legions of fans. The song is a clear
harkening back to the C. C. R.
days, evocative as it is of their take.
on "I Heard it Through the
I sense that John Fogerty is
trying to get the proportions right
for his present sound, and the
results should be well worth
hearing. What say we just set Eye
of the Zombie aside though, okay?
No Guru, No Method,
It's been two-and-a-half years
since Warner Bros. ' dropped
Morrison from its roster for what
was, in effect, a splash of cold
water. The album he subsequently
recorded for Mercury, A Sense of
Wonder, was a strong, frequently
inspired celebration of the many
different musics that Morrison has
blended into his own sound.
In retrospect, A Sense of
Wonder seems to have grown out
of Morrison's being made to look
at his own music from the outside.
Having been dropped, he was forced
to re-examine his career and
influences. From that vantage, he
fell in love with what he was doing
all over again. As he says, "Didn't I
come to bring you a sense of
wonder/ Didn't I come to lift your
fiery vision bright?"
No Guru, No Method, No
Teacher is another matter.
Morrison is, as befits his
remarkable career, confident and
self-reliant. He's consciously
charting new ground in the crack
between rock and jazz he has
physicality. He writes, "Like a
child within the kingdom/ As we
sat beside the sea/ Oh the warm
feeling as I sat by you."
Morrison actually gets away
with it, 'but he does so more
because he is Van Morrison than
because he's offering new visions.
In the 21 years he's been recording,
he's proved he deserves to be heard,
and for those willing to make the
effort, No Guru, No Method, No
Teacher has its rewards. It offers
more of the musical mysticism that
no other major artist has bothered
to explore by giving another
chapter in the story that began, not
with "Gloria" and "Brown Eyed
Girl," but Astral Weeks. Beyond
the heady stuff, it also offers a
classic Van Morrison tune in "Ivory
But unless you're willing to
make the effort, No Guru, No
Method, No Teacher isn't for you.
With it, Morrison is slowly drifting
back into the remote mysticismt
that characterized his later work
with Warner Bros. It's certainly not
a bad album, but it is a difficult
N. University 764-0446