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January 06, 1989 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-06

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Friday, January 6, 1989

The Michigan Daily
FOR the past two years or so, it
has seemed that you can hardly turn
around without seeing yet another
book or movie about "the Vietnam
experience." It's at the point where
all of these recollections have little
to no effect anymore.
At first glance, University
graduate Patricia Weaver Francisco's
first novel, Cold Feet, could fit this
category. Cold Feet, however, is set
not in the jungles of Vietnam but in
Ann Arbor;Cold Feet is not about a
war veteran, but about Yoder, a war
evader, who returns to Ann Arbor
after six years in Canada.
The cold reality of Cold Feet is
warmed by Francisco's compassion-
ate portrayal of Yoder, as she trans-
forms Yoder's feelings into evoca-
tive images. Before he left Ann Ar-
bor, he remembers, "It had seemed
then as if the world were a street
dance on a summer day." When he
returns, he finds a very different
world, "(It's) impossible to account
for so much lost time. It hadn't
seemed lost until he'd gotten back."
The reader feels Yoder's pain and
disillusionment at seeing Sal, his
college sweetheart, working at the
same bank that they had protested
against in college.
However, Francisco does not in-
dict those who changed their convic-
tions: "Yoder is an extreme exam-
ple," she says, "he was 'out of
time'... Sal struggled with the
transition 'in time.' She's hanging
in there to slug it out."
For Francisco, Cold Feet repre-
sents her own attempt at "slugging
it out. The seeds of the story were
planted in a University creative
writing class taught by Richard
Ford. Francisco remembers, "Ford is
a soft-spoken man ... but when he

Page 10

t ebellum

A 2

Patricia Weaver Francisco's
Cold Feet examines the war at

home - and the
to redefine 'the

war inside
Vietnam Ex-

He desires intimacy; as he watches
his best friend and his lover, he
comments, "This murmur of words
and movement was intimacy and he
wanted it," yet when he has a chance
of obtaining it, he flees.
Ultimately it is Yoder's
reconciliation of his convictions
with the existing situation that of-
fers him the chance of intimacy -
and Francisco does not believe that
this reconciliation is only possible
in fiction: "I do think people have
reclaimed some sense of what they
had 20 years ago. One person can do
what they want; they don't have to
answer to others' values. People are
taking a quieter, more individual ap-
In keeping with the kinder, gen-
tler nation that we've been
promised? Well... no. "Lately I've
been quite pessimistic about the fu-
ture. I don't love what I see. I think
it's important that we look at (the
Vietnam experience) and talk about
it so that we don't stumble again."
Francisco's pessimism becomes
even more evident in Yoder's com-
mentary: "I know I sound like a
folksinger, but I hate it when people
say we were irresponsible. We were
responsible toward a new world.
Some of us. Not me, but people I
knew. Everyone was trying to
imagine - sometimes hallucinate
- a new world. Because this one
wasn't right - and it still is not
right. Someday it's going to rot out
from under us..."
But despite all its warning flags,
and all of its unsettling reminders of
past mistakes, Francisco achieves an
honesty and compassion usually
passed by in the cynicism of con-
temporary fiction. As Yoder says,
Cold Feet does what anything
worthwhile should: "It was good to
be touched in the places that hurt."

Melanie Griffith is a Working
Girl. No, this does not mean that
she is a prostitute. Instead, each
morning she takes the Staten Island
Ferry to the big city, and when she
gets to the office she replaces her
high tops with the heels she has
carried there. But along with her
shoes, she has brought ambition,
and the result is a modern, though
tamed down, version of a Horatio
Alger story.
She may not be dirt poor to start
with, and at film's end she isn't rich,
but Griffith does embody the Amer-
ican dream, which in today's
business world and in more realistic
terms can also be known as Survival
of the Fittest. And Griffith is the
fittest for the role.
Director Mike Nichols, whose
The Graduate still stands as the
representative film about the lack of
personal direction that characterized
the '60s, may just have created a
film that will represent the '80s in
years to come. And he had the good
sense to let Melanie Griffith be the
true star of the film, especially
considering her heavyweight co-stars
Harrison Ford and Sigourney

returned the story, he just lost it. He
said, 'This isn't a story, this is just
the beginning ... it's full of ques-
tions. You do something with it ...
it's not done. But I was done. I
didn't have anything else to say.
"I found the story six years later
and realized that I did have a lot more
to say. (The experiences) were far
enough away to have things to say. I
finishedCold Feet to answer my
questions about the future. Writing
is the only way I can think."

And often, inCold Feet , you'do
see Francisco's thoughts at work.
She adds the interior monologues of
a variety of characters at the end of
many chapters - monologues that
don't follow "logical" chronological
order but are somehow connected.
Strands like these, that are seem-
ingly unrelated, run throughout the
novel, and, as Francisco explains,
are actually complementary:
"Writing is like weaving, and the
themes are like threads. It takes lots

of different threads to complete the
By taking the strands of Vietnam,
weaving in the mindset of the late
'70s, and adding the eternal threads
of love and death, Francisco has cre-
ated a beautiful story that transcends
the barrage of Vietnam works. Ulti-
mately Cold Feet is a story not
about a man evading the draft - an
experience that few have had - but
about a man evading emotions - an
experience that everybody has had.

See Working,

Page 11





Enlightenment, Empowerment and
Equity: A Challenge of the King Legacy

A commemorative symposium
Sunday, January 15
Keynote address:
The Honorable Willie Brown, Speaker
California House of Representatives
4:30 p.m., Hill Auditorium
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Concert
"Scenes From The Life of A Martyr"
8:00 p.m., Hill Auditorium

January 15 and 16,1989

Monday, January 16
Plenary session:
8:30 a.m., Mendelssohn Theatre
Speaker: Sharon Robinson,
Executive Director, PUSH-Excel
Unity March:
12:00 noon, from S. University and
Washtenaw to the Diag
Workshops will be held throughout
campus beginning at 1:30 p.m.

at The University of Michigan
Closing Address:
The Honorable Mayor,
Andrew Young
Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
7:30 p.m., Hill Auditorium
All events are free and
open to the public.
Sponsored by
The University of Michigan
Office of Minority Affairs.

Seduction By Light
By Al Young
Delta Fiction
Paperback $7.95
Billed as a "contemporary metaphysical comedy,"
Seduction by Light succeeds on all three counts. How
the flimsy stuff of pop/junk culture (Joan Rivers, soap
operas, a coke-sniffing sit-coin star named Fiona
Prince) is molded into a solid metaphysical novel is the
wonder of Al Young's handiwork.
Mamie Franklin is the undeniable star of this Hol-
lywood production. A middle-aged actor/singer/dom-
estic/psychic/mother with a knack for telling a story,
she lives and breathes every word of this novel. Her
voice is as unsparingly candid as the Huckleberry Finn
voice from that book made by Mr. Mark Twain. Her
moves are as brassy and confident as the Count Basic
"Oh I know him like the inside of my mouth," she
says of a meddling neighbor. "Soon as Burley taken
sick, her come old Sneaky Pete grinnin at me and of-
ferin his help. Remember when Mike Todd died and
suddenly up pop Eddie Fisher all up in Elizabeth Tay-
lor's face, consolin Liz and seein her around?... hey
that's the stuff you gotta watch."
You gotta watch Mamie Franklin as she endures a
cavalcade of semi-ridiculous characters, demanding her
time, her love, and her considerable psychic abilities.
Between a hedonistic but kindly employer, a flaky but
earnest son, and a powerful but insecure old boyfriend,
she's got her hands full. Add to that the death of her
common-law husband and an earthquake that pulverizes

her Santa Monica home and you might be stuck with
an intolerably hopeless catalogue of misfortunes. But
Mamie manages to keep the whole raft afloat with her
homespun wit and wisdom:
"My theory is this," she says, "that a long time ago,
we used to didnt talk at all, and yet we understood one
another more or less perfectly, probably better than we
do now with all the computers and word processors and,
sattelites and lie detectors and push-button telephones-
and answerin machines we got."
Since Mamie's spirit is bigger than all outdoors - or
as an Emily Dickinson poem spotted on her friend's t-
shirt puts it, "The Brain - is wider than the sky," -
the scope of the novel extends beyond the boulevards of
Hollywood. A walk on the Astral Plane with her idof
Benjamin Franklin takes her to the pyramids of Egypt
and revolution-era France. While some might cringe at "A
the stereotypically West Coast Shirley MacLaine-isms,
all the talk of previous lives and de-materializing
makes perfect sense in the context of the plot. It comes
off as a hip-but-dignified answer to the classic journey-
to the underworld.
According to the back cover, Bill Cosby's known ',
about Al Young for years. It's time for the general~
reading public to catch up with T.V.'s favorite dad. An
acclaimed poet and jazz critic as well as novelist,,
Young has produced in Mamie Franklin a bona-fide
hero and in Seduction by Light a substantial, satisfy-
ing novel. Luckily for us, he's paying Ann Arbor a
visit next week for a reading in the Rackham East "
Conference Room.
-Mark Swarti

* I
1 " The search for the next dean of Literature, Science I
& Arts is underway.
* * As a student YOUR input on this decision is
* important.
SPlease nominate any professor(s) whom you believe
* would be an excellent candidate for this position.
* Your suggestions are greatly appreciated, and vital to I
I this decision process.
* I
I nominate:
* I

Dance Is For
?Ulcfll jdzr
baHllt anrld
ballet floor-
barre' by
Ann ,Arbor's
best instructors.
* All levels: Beginner through
advanced. Pre-school

-The Ark will host a benefit Saturday night for the
Shelter Association of Ann Arbor. Mr. B., boogie-woogie
pianist, is probably the hottest Ann Arbor artist going
right now, and he'll show his stuff, along with Tracy Lee
Komarmy, vocalist of the legendary Tracy Lee and the
Leonards, humorist O.J. Anderson, and songwriter Jay
Stielstra. Go help out - tickets are only ten bucks.
Showtime is 8 p.m.


Looking for a scholar-
ship? Air Force ROTC has
two- through four-year scholarships


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