Page 8 -The Michigan Daily-Monday, October 5, 1987
A Cannibal in
By Tama Janowitz
Tama Janowitz - it's hard not to
know the name. Since the critical
and public success of her short story
collection, Slaves of New York,
she's been seen everywhere from
amaretto ads in magazines to MTV.
Tama is a marketing firm's delight
- she's young, pretty, intelligent,
and knows all the right people and
places - a perfect package.
So it's no surprise t h a t
Janowitz's latest effort, A Cannibal
in Manhattan, comes equally well-
packaged. From the dedication to
Andy Warhol to the collection of
photographs detailing episodes in the
novel to the cute drawings beginning
and ending the chapters, the novel
The story is supposedly the auto-
biography of Mgungu Yabba
Mgungu, a reformed cannibal from
the South Seas island of New Burnt
Norton. Here Mgungu lives a
content life with his three wives, but
he is not completely happy: "I now
know I had never been satisfied with
my life as a savage. Always there
has been with me the feeling: none
of this has anything to do with you.
As if all my life I had been
experiencing a divorce, or at least a
temporary separation from my true
self. During the days when
cannibalism was still chic, there had
been a reason for me to live, a
purpose in life, so to speak."
Mgungu obviously is not your
average cannibal. He knows a lot
about the Western world from
reading books like Ulysses and old
American magazines. Maria
Fishburn, a Manhattan socialite and
Peace Corps worker, meets 1Pm and
insists that Mgungu come to New
York with her. Mgungu can't refuse
this offer, so he flies off to New
York's "Mr. Kennedy's Airport."
Here the story really picks up
momentum. From Mgungu's first
cab ride - it cost him $189 - to
his first cocktail party, Janowitz,
through Mgungu's naive narration,
makes the reader laugh out loud. At
a party that Maria took him to,
Mgungu makes "my terrible faux
pas." He overheard a man saying that
the floral centerpiece was tasteless,
so Mgungu recalls: "I found that I
had to taste one for myself and so
climbed upon the table, reached
across vegetables, plucked one from
the center of the arrangement, and
began to munch on it. And it was
not tasteless but only delicate and
with a slight waxy savor to it."
However, from here, for both the
plot and Mgungu, it's all downhill.
Mgungu becomes involved with
cannibals of another kind - those
who feed on innocents like Mgungu.
As one man tells him, " ... you see
the world around you as a scene
painted for scene painting's sake,
when in fact it is not only highly
representative but also symbolic.
And these symbols you are not
interpreting but simply letting pass
you by." In other words, Mgungu,
while natively intelligent, is not
attune to the devious side of human
If one wants to take this novel at
a moralistic level, Janowitz seems to
be asking, "Is our society really
more civilized than Mgungu's?"
However, the reader is never sure of
the response. Instead of approaching
the book on this level, enjoy A
Cannibal in Manhattan for its witty
pokes at the trendy, artsy side of
America and for its clever packaging.
If taken beyond that, it might be
Necros play Pig for a
(Continued from Page 7)
understand that. Especially the whole
long-haired aspect of the hair-in-the-
face kind of thing. It has its
importance, but basically it's for
In immersing themselves elbow-
deep in the "rock and roll joke," a
typical Necros show resembles an
unstable collision between arma-
geddon and entertainment. "Lots of
beer, lots of rowdiness, a real fun
time," describes Henssler. "Our
whole trip is to have lots of
obnoxious fun. The best party to go
to would be one of our shows."
Blind Pig with opening act Gone In
60 Seconds. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Cover is $5. Be there or be in
(Cot. tinued from Page?7)
[ama Janowitz, author of 'Cannibal in
about artsy, downtown New Yorkers.
The Necros play
tonight at the
used to pen some very pleasant,
enjoyable pop tunes. Now they're
playing whiney pop dribble.
After their last tour, Dumptruck
songwriters Kirk Swan and Seth
Tiven went separate ways. Tiven
kept the band name (and the
drummer), and found two other
players to join him. Unfortunately, a
lot of the band's character left with
this "break up" of sorts. "Carefree" ,k
rides an easy current with double
jangling guitars and a riding rhythm,
and there's a few other bright spots
on For the Country such as the
surging, Byrdsy "Going Nowhere."
But overall this LP is just boring.
d4 "444 g 4 4va
Dumptruck sorely misses Kirk
Swan's guitar playing and singing,
which when matched with that of
Tiven's gave the band an edgy,
almost a-harmonic groove. The two
songwriters collectively churned out
some very fresh, strong melodies.
Now they just sound like 157 other
wimpy guitar bands. At times they
even resemble a lame Wings cover
That's too bad.
nice act once.
They were a real
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