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December 05, 1989 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-12-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I

ARTS
Tuesday, December 5, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Page 8

Writer

Brown

buil

BY CAROLYN PAJOR
W HAT would you say if your mother was the
author of three novels, two books of poetry, and
a book of short stories? Writer Rosellen Brown
says her daughter and University student, Elana,
will shrug off the question with a pithy, "Big
deal, she's my mother."
"Big" is an apt description of Rosellen
Brown's work - she doesn't limit herself in
subject matter or style of prose. Her novels range
from Civil Wars, a story of ex-civil rights work-
ers in Mississippi to Tender Mercies (not the
movie), a story of a husband who accidently runs
over his wife in a motorboat, rendering her a
quadraplegic. It tells of the guilt and bitterness
that follow as they try to restitch their lives.
Of her diverse subject matter, she says, "As a
writer, you can live all these different lives with-
out committing yourself to them. You just in-
habit their bodies, it's like being an actor." Her
long poem, "Cora Fry," tells of a woman in a
small town who wants to get away to see the rest
of the world. Brown says she enjoys writing
about "where the political world meets the do-
mestic world. Most of my books have some sort
of history."
It is evident, though, that history is not the
only bridge between her writing. In a review of
Civil Wars, critic Linda Simon says, "Rosellen

"Abeautifuland most mazing book"
iMRCIUEBR'
: te n ' :IL IWARS
I Ii
Brown is a sensitive and often masterful writer.
She can portray a character by the inflection of a

s bridges
phrase or the description of a hand, a foot, the
pressure of a light touch." Sensitive indeed, as a
writer must be in order to write believably from
the inside of the head of a quadraplegic woman.
The paralyzed wife, Laura, talks of her useless
body in Tender Mercies:
I feel the flesh, it is smeared and heavy like a
double coat of paint... You want to know why
they didn't cut the killed part off, I know you
do. Leave just my head, which works?... I'd
like you to visit my head, I'd keep my can-
celled body out of sight. Next time you come
I'll have it closed in a box, all right? With a
padlock under my chin like a silver~ bow.
Brown records Laura's feelings in shattering
detail and says she accomplished this by
"concentrating and deeply focusing my thoughts.
Writing is almost like meditation: you get so far
from your life you can enter others' lives." In
Tender Mercies, Laura tells someone that her
whole body feels as a person's arm feels when it
falls asleep. By making comparisons this way,
Brown says she tried to "build a bridge to readers
who wouldn't understand." And from her poetry
to fiction and the distinctive worlds she inhabits
within, Rosellen Brown is successful.
ROSELLEN BROWN will be reading at Rack-
ham Amphitheatre today at 4 p.m.

4

Where there's a Will,
there's some Bushmen
Never having been stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues,
Alabama pop rockers Will and the Bushmen bring the blend of R & B, R
& R, and soul on their eponymous album (SBK Records)to the stage of
the Blind Pig tonight. Doors open at 9.30 p.m. Tickets are $4 at the
door.

ii

al

.1

Like a caffeine-propelled Rolling Stone

BY ANNETTE PETR USSO
R OLLING Stone: The Pho-
tographs, the book, documents the
"best" pictures of the most popular
artists of the time as they appeared
in Rolling Stone since its inception
in 1967. The current promotional
tour of college campuses in heart-
warming conjunction with Maxwell
House coffee displays these near-fa-
mous pics as art in a "gallery" in the
Pendleton Room of the Union. Con-
sisting mainly of photographs of
rock stars, this retrospective reflects
the personalities and changing atti-
tudes of both photographers and their
subjects.
The earliest pictures, from the
late '60s and early '70s and in black-
and-white, have an air of spontane-
ity. The close-up of Tiny Tim's

archetypal heavy metal pose with his
ukelele, complemented by a six-pic-
ture montage of his spontaneous
mugging for the camera, make him
unpompous and funny. The 1969
photo of Bob Dylan actually smiling
in public captures a rare moment in
music history. The Janis Joplin
nude, posed in a most poignant fash-
ion, reflects her tendency to brashly
display everything about herself for
the world to see.
The overwhelming majority of
pictures come from the '80s, but the
few from the '70s are more interest-
ingly photographed. Annie Lei-
bovitz, whose photographs are by far
the most amusing and best looking,
often captured this era in pairs. The
odd couple of her 1973 picture, Sal-
vador Dali and Alice Cooper, looks
posed but the very pairing maintains

a sense of humor. The Glimmer
Twins (Keith and Mick), before they
got old, posed as self-mocking rock
stars, barechested and cool. The most
amusing photo of the whole exhibit,
by Mary Ellen Mark, depicts Marlon
Brando circa 1976 in Little House on
David Bowie, Keith
Richards, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, and
Eddie Murphy model as
'we are cool and we
know it.,'
the Prairie garb, standing in a wheat
field with a gun pointed at YOU.
In comparison, the majority of
photographs from the '80s seem
posed, similar to advertisements, and
self-righteous to boot. The only star
who doesn't seem to take himself se-

riously is Brian Wilson, who poses
as Mr. Universe on a piano. David
Bowie, Keith Richards, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy
model as "we are cool and we know
it." The glossiness may reflect the
commercialization of '80s society
but becomes repetitive because each
photo doesn't seem to reflect the
star's self, only the slick public self
that makes him or her seem like ev-
ery other star. Bruce Springsteen's
reflective pose and John Huston's
closed eyes seem a more real version
of their public image but can hardly
make up for the stupid stud imagery
of Timothy West's "portrait" of Jon
Bon Jovi with a white stallion.
Matthew Rolston's blue-tinted
black-and-white photos of Terence
Trent D'Arby, George Michael, and

Bono look like ads for jeans, but
these stars have a public arrogant at-
titude to match this kind of preten-
tious photography.
The fact that Rolling Stone has
made this exhibit primarily a product
promotion (and further for a product
that has nothing to do with rock 'n'
roll) parallels the brazen commercial-
ization of the pictures from the
1980s. Hiding behind free mugs and
coffee, this show contains worth-
while modern cultural history but
has forgotten the spirit of rock's
low-budget anti-establishment roots.
ROLLING STONE: THE PHO-
TOGRAPHS is on display in the
Pendleton Room of the Michigan
Union today and tomorrow, 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m.

jTHEESPOTLIGHT
The informative and fun if some-
times standard documentary Comic
Book Confidential is playing this
week at the Ann Arbor 1 & 2. The
film is a nice introduction to the
world of comic books, especially the
underground artists of the last 2Q
years or so. There's a lot of neat
stuff for old fans, too, like story-
teller Harvey Pekar growlingly nar-
rating the tale of a jazz junkie and
super-8 footage of R. Crumb and his
San Francisco buddies. Call the the-
ater at 761-9700 for times.

Nom.'

C

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Only a limited number of candidates can be interviewed.
Selection criteria include superior academic performance,
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