Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

April 24, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-04-24

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


The Michigan Doily
William Kennedy's Albany:
A unique city of dreams

Tuesday, April 24, 1990

Page 5


6y Mark Swartz
WILLIAM Kennedy, guest lecturer
at this year's Hopwood Awards, has
written five novels, including the
Pulitzer Prize-winning Ironweed and
last year's Quinn's Book. If he had
wanted, he could have saved himself
some trouble and given them all the
charmingly cumbersome title of his
single non-fiction work: O Albany!
Improbable City of Political Wiz-
ards, Fearless Ethnics, Spectacular
Aristocrats, Splendid Nobodies and
Underrated Scoundrels.
Kennedy's stories can take place
in any year; he's even considering
penning a pre-revolutionary novel.
But they all take place in one city.
As he explains it, Albany, New
York "is a place where I've found a
great deal of material on which the
imagination can work. I know the
place. I know its history. And I find
there's a strength in that that I
wouldn't have if I were to write
about, say, Ann Arbor."
0 That is Ann Arbor's loss, be-
cause Albany has become, say crit-
ics, Kennedy's Dublin, his Yoknap-
atawpha, having consistently borne
fruitful literature the same way those
two places did for Joyce and
Faulkner earlier this century.
"The whole principle of place
from those two writers meant a lot
to me," says Kennedy, "seeing how
they would use their own home and
environment to tell a universal story
that wouldn't be out of place in any-
pne's bookshelf."
"My roots are deep here," he
htates. "My family goes back all the
way. My grandparents moved here
from Ireland. And I've studied the
'today's weather
Today will be partly sunny with
* a high all the way up around 80 and
the low tonight will only go down
to around 50 degrees. Tomorrow's
temps should hit 80 again. Fuck
studying, fuck exams, fuck classes!

history so that my imagination goes
all the way back to the very begin-
ning of the city."
Truly, he is a wellspring of
knowledge about the history of the
city where he was born in 1928. If
you plan on asking William
Kennedy about Albany, you had bet-
ter pack a lunch, because he is ca-
pable of launching into an endless
- and endlessly fascinating -
monologue about the capital city's
"Political Wizards."
"Nobody alive can remember Al-
bany when it wasn't a boss machine
city," he begins, "first by a wasp
boss named Billy Barnes, a Republi-
can who ran the city from 1899 to
1921. And from 1921 to 1983, it
was the 0' Connell-Corning ma-
chine. That probably was the most
powerful machine of any city that
has ever existed in the country in
terms of longevity, and supremacy
of power in every realm. A lot of
other Irish boss machines have flour-
ished: Jersey City, New York,
Chicago. But not with the quality of
endurance that Albany's had. It really
does hold a record, as the mayor does
as well, uninterrupted for l l straight
There is no doubt that Albany
has given William Kennedy a great
deal. Now, he is in the happy situa-
tion of being able to return the fa-
vor. After winning the coveted
MacArthur Foundation Fellowship;
- also called the "genius grant" -
Kennedy founded the Albany
Writer's Institute at the State Uni-
versity of New York. "The Writers
Institute is something I started in
1983 when I got the MacArthur
grant," he explains. "There were 15
thousand dollars which I had as an
ancillary grant from the MacArthur
people to give away. We now bring

For author Willam Kennedy, Albany, New York is the equivalent of Joyce's
Dublin: a city where the seemingly mundane becomes fantastic.

in about 60 writers a year. It's quite
an operation. It has changed the cul-
tural attitude of the city consider-
ably. People who come here from
the outside don't feel like it's a
wasteland anymore."
Quinn's Book is a marked depar-
ture for Kennedy by for once not fo-
cusing on the seamier elements of
the city: the alcoholics of Ironweed
or the gangsters of Legs. It is an
impressive novel that chronicles the
life of Quinn, the "formidable folk-
lorist," as he pursues the love of one
Maud Fallon.
Quinn serves as the idiosyncratic,
romantic hero of the novel. His no-
bility comes from a quixotic world
view that extends even to practices
that, in another writer's hands,
might seem mundane. Shaving, for
instance. As Kennedy reports it,
Quinn aspires to true greatness as a
shaver: "He concluded that he would
have to shave regularly from now
on, a relentless obligation. He
would, in spite of all, develop an
awesome talent for shaving himself.
He could feel that. He would be very
good at what he did. Maud had pre-

dicted that."
Though Quinn lived a hundred
years before Kennedy, the author
admits to similarities in their experi-
ences. "Being Irish, being a newspa-
per man, being in love, being in
trouble, witnessing theater, witness-
ing war" are all parts of Kennedy's
life that he assimilated into Quinn's.
As an experiment, writing about
the 19th century paid off, Kennedy
believes. "The consequence was a
surprise of language and a surprise
that thel9th century had such an ap-
peal for me," he says. "A writer's
job is to see what he can do that
suprises him and will surprise the
reader, that tells the reader what it
means to be alive."
WILLIAM KENNEDY will deliver
the Hopwood Lecture at 3:30 pm in
Rackham Auditorium. This is a
lecture, not a reading of his work.
Afterward, the Hopwood Award
winners, as well as the recipients of
the Kasdan Scholarship, the Jeffrey
L. Weisberg Award and the Arthur
Miller Award, will be presented
with their loot.

Sinead O'Connor
I Do Not Want What 1
Haven't Got
It's been nine hours and 25 days
since the new Sinead O'Connor
record started to seep into this re-
viewer. I Do Not Want... presents a
much more sober, subdued woman
than the hit LP The Lion and the
Cobra. O'Connor's voice isn't as
keen to indulge in vocal pyrotech-
nics. The moody contemplativeness
he-e mirrors the concerns in her own
life; there are some very directly au-
tobiographical songs, some of which
in their open confession have you
wincing slightly.
In "The Emperor's New Clothes"
O'Connor remarks on "how preg-
nancy can change you." The rest of
the song smacks a little of self-justi-
fication as she tells her lover to piss
off. The album's title track, sung a
capella, sounds like Clannad, and
with its echoey production comes off
as too contrived a showcase for
O'Connor's voice. She should be
wary of oversinging. "Jump on the
River" is a lumpen piece of rock that
ruins the effect of some very physi-
cal lyrics. In its title, "Black Boys
on Mopeds" has a crisp image that
encapsulates English racism and po-
lice brutality. O'Connor proceeds to
rail against Mrs. Thatcher and the
Room With a View/Brideshead Re-
visited mythical picture of England
that people in North America love to
believe. It's all a little naive lyri-
cally, but forgivable as O'Connor
sings it with grace.
Taken as a whole, the lyrics on
the album are carried off by some
glorious singing and lush string ar-

rangements; Sinead could sing "My
Way" and it would sound ace. Espe-
cially terrific is "I am Stretched On
Your Grave," in which O'Connor
sings a ballad in the ancient Irish
tradition over the sparse beat -of
James Brown's "Funky Drummer."
Pop psychoanalysis would reveal
that this is the best Catholic album
since Madonna's Like a Prayer.
O'Connor sings about death, babis,
her mother, the land and love as well
as breaking up in the cover version
of a Prince song (recorded by his
proteg6s The Family); "Nothifig
compares 2 U" is miles and away the
strongest track on the album. By
now, you've all heard it on the radio
and seen O'Connor cry those big Sad
tears on the video. It's going to be-
come one of the venerated pop cla-
sics of all time, one of those songs
that couples have as "their very spe-
cial tune" for many years to comie;
one of those songs that makes you
want to lick the lonely teardrops off
Sindad's cheeks. Awesome "big"
production by Nellee Hooper of Soul
II Soul plays up the best qualities in
O'Connor's incredible range.
"Nothing Compares 2 U" is sad and
life affirming in the same way as
Roy Orbison's lyrical wells of lone-
liness. Such songs are rare these
-Nabeel Zuberi
Big Chief
Get Down and Double Check
Get Hip
In the world of you-know-what, a
few things take top priority. Long
hair - an immediate requisite to
thrashing. You shake it all about.
Oh, and bigness. Bigness helps. The
bigger the impetus, the bolder the
See RECORDS, page 9


Open Early \ Open Late
1220 S. University
the copy center

"Chicago's #rentaierie
Provdes person.alieevc
. eliv, . t.4he trad st lstngofpatet
M.:.akes idrngan aarent a pleasures jnot a chore'
230 LiCpl Park West, Sut 10Chicago, IL 606431 2 4O9900
Chrley's. Michigan's Premiere
College Bar & Restaurant
Study Break Headquarters
Good Thne



is looking forresponsible committed
JewIsh students to chair/co-chair the

1990-91 campaign.

The chairperson/co-



You want it all.
We've got Hylights
Daily Sports

chairpersons of the U of M campaign
have the opportunity to go on a


during winter break. Interested persons-

should call 769-0500 for more
information or to set up an interview.


Attention Advertisers!..
The Michigan Daily's
last publication will be
Wednesday, April 25, 1990
We will be publishing every
Wednesday during the
Spring and Summer terms.



Come join us for
May 5th.
9:00 am
until 4:00 pm

on Balfour Gold College Rings.
For a limited time, it's open season on savings on
gold college rings by Balfour. Choose your favorite
style at some very rare prices and help save an
endangered species-your dollars. Hurry now,

Extensive buffet, full-service
bar and the ambiance of
The University Club.
Call 763-5911 for reservations
We're filling up fast!


Back to Top

© 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan