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November 10, 1989 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-10
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Write to the

Send questions,
ommA-n t ennrn se

1

Cover Story
Continued from Page 11

CDaily ithout complaints,
findercommendations to
f; a MICHIGAN TDAILY"

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Re-writing history with a
different perspective

Read Jim Ponie

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ULIAN ARNES

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PASS
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AROUND!

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Mannequins show off the latest styles at a local mall store.

"The Bhne Nife wraps up the f avor
of Ethiopia."
Molly Abraham
Detroit Free Press

"Like an oasis in the desert, an island
in the middle of a turbu(ent sea, B(ue
Nile is an escape, a sanctuary."
Sandra Silfven
Detroit News

'Experience the 3000 year o(d culture of Ethiopia.
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Join us tonight for a dining experience that is to be shared and ong remembered.
*The

Miller and David Vontom. "Lots of
stores are here, it's just easier."
Not everyone agreed with the
mall diversity. "There's not enough
variety, its not up to date," com-
plained 19-year-old Valerie Brights.
from Ann Arbor. "Every store you
go into has the same thing." But,
she added, this problem is not so
much an indictment of mall culture
on the whole, but that Briarwood
lacked a certian je ne sais quoi com-
pared to other area malls.
I'm here with my grandchildren.
I'm not following them around be-
cause I can't walk too well. I come
here a lot with just my wife, too. We
have lunch, shop around. Once in a
while we buy something.
-Jack, 69 years old
For Jack and many other senior
citizens, the mall is a safe, easy
place to go. Jack, waiting patiently
in the mall's central square, by the
information desk, remained there for
at least two hours. Rather than laz-
ing away on a back porch swing
watching the leaves blow around, he
could sit there and witness a verita-
ble parade of shoppers of all shapes
and sizes.
People-watching, a sport as old,
presumably, as people themselves,
takes on new dimensions in a shop-
ping mall. You can watch families
haggling over gifts for Aunt Zelda,
teens with lopsided haircuts tucking
skateboards under their arms, profes-
sional shoppers lugging scores of
bags of assorted colors, and more.
Better than the MacNeill-Lehrer re-
port? Probably.
"I come here quite often to see a
lot of people and meet a lot of peo-
ple," said Bob Miller, as he sipped a
Burger King shake.

"The upper-middle class like to
go and shop as opposed to going to
the country," he added..
So, months later, when you roll
through that mall parking lot ...well,
bam! a certain kind of sizzling mer-
cury light hits you, and there's all
that new-black asphalt with the per-
fect yellow lines, and that parking
lot is stunning. ..Jnstead of ignoring
(or moaning about) the byproduct of
60 kinds of venal and reprobate
corporate behavior (all of which
you too abhor, more or less), you
look around, you let yourself be
touched.
-Author Fredrick Barthelme, in
the New York Times Book Review,
April 3, 1988
In the final analysis, mall culture
is no more than an outgrowth of the
death of Post-Modernism. One time,
nothing so palpable and common-
place as the mall would have been
considered worthy of literature. Writ-
ers, like Fredrick Barthelme's late
brother Donald, Don Delillo and
John Barth, explored all the strange
and wonderful things that language
could do. Collectively, they were the
Post Modernists. But now the revo-
lution is over. The literary commu-
nity, at last, has come to appreciate
the worth of the modern shopping
mall.
Barthelme, like many of his gen-
eration, has come around from writ-
ing about writing and has begun to
write about people again. And where
do you find people? Your average
day-to-day people and their average
(but fascinating) problems? Where
else, but at the mall.
Remember, there are only 45
shopping days until Christmas.

Julian Barnes
A History Of The
World In 10 1/2 Chap-
ters
Julian Barnes
Alfred A. Knopf, $18.95
Glancing through the pages of the
New Statesman a couple of weeks
ago, I chanced upon the not-so-mind-
less musings of one Noel Petty: "So
God said; 'Let there be light and
there was light and by the light that
shone God saw that it was not
good... And God decreed that the cre-
ation should be aborted for he desired
to take it once again from the top.'"
Petty might have been debating a
possible version of the verses pre-
ceeding the infamous, "In the begin-
ning..." of the Old Testament, but
his tone strikes a chord that res-
onates thoughout Julian Barnes' lat-
est novel, A History Of The World
In 10 1/2 Chapters.
So if the world went wrong, what
went wrong and whose fault is it,
anyway? Well Barnes, (author of
Flaubert's Parrot and Staring at the
Sun), is baffled; his history is a be-
mused wandering through the annals
of history, a history which though
resolutely Anglocentric, questions
Judaic-Christian tradition. If Barnes
learns anything it is this: should
there be a God, Barnes probably
wouldn't like him very much..
None of which means that history
can't be fun. So we start somewhere
near "The Beginning" with a revi-
sionist report of "The Flood," re-
counted by a disgruntled woodworm
who has little respect for Noah and
even less for his entourage. We take
a giddy course though the interven-
ing few thousand years, alighting at
whim on the bizarre, the amusing
and the downright terrifying. The
Ark becomes the leitmotif for the
following nine and a half chapters,

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So if the world went wror
whose fault is it, anyway?
mused wandering through t
and the woodworm reappears with,
alarming frequency.
As in many collections of short.
stories, and basically that is what
this volume is, some tales outshine
the rest. Barnes is most compelling,
when he contemplates, when he
forces us to look at the world
askance, and least exciting when he,
dwells overly on the cute, which he,
does occassionally. It's easy to tire;
of a woodworm's endless whining
over injustices on Noah's flotilla;
easier at any rate than ignoring
Barnes' search, in his half chapter,
into the futility of love .
Barnes questions the absurdities of

E L
ng, what went wrong and
...Barnes' history is a be-
he annals of history.
existence in a mild and whimsical
manner that is unquestionably Bri-
fish. He enters into a lengthy dia--
logue with his reader, and, with an
irreverence that is irresistible, he
casts doubts upon the definite and
suspicion upon the irreproachable.
And as he points out eventually,
even if God did try and abort his
catastrophic creation with the flood
and begin again from the top, his-
tory is not repeating itself; "No,
that's too grand, too considered a
process. History just burps, and we
taste again that raw onion sandwich
it swallowed centuries ago."
-Sharon Grimberg
1ff '89

~Blue Nile
Restaurant

300 Braun Court
Ann Arbor
"Kerrytowns newest restaurant~
663-3-116

Next Week in
Weekend Magazine TIpC

v

U~be Liditugm 3Daint

- s - a ,r_.

Page 12

Weekend/November 10, 1989

Weekend/November 10, 1989

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