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October 16, 1990 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-16

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 16, 1990

Page 5

Baxter chooses fiction first

Theater review
August Snow 's action untrue

by Carolyn Palor
Writer Charles Baxter explains
the difference between poetry and
fiction as such: poetry is about
conditions and states of being in
moments that stretch out into a
lyric condition, and fiction is the
"sequence of events which
something is at stake... where
there is a cause and effect."
Although Baxter is primarily a
writer of fiction, he first wanted
to be a poet. "I am better at fic-
tion - short stories - than I am
at poetry," he says. "It is a disap-
pointment." One cannot be too
sympathetic for the artist: his
book of poems, Imaginary Paint-
ings and Other Poems was just
published last year.
Baxter is the consummate
writer: not only does he write po-
ems and short stories, but novels
as well. The Los Angeles Times
Book Review called his novel,
First Light, "an intricately reflec-
tive, simply beautiful book." Ac-
colades are as enthusiastic for his
most recent collection of short
stories, A Relative Stranger.
v Writer Francine Prose says on the
book jacket, "In these wonderful,
insightful stories Charles Baxter
asks the most important ques-
tions... the things we have been
thinking about, but haven't...
known how to begin to say."
Yet Baxter hesitates to define
his own work. "Too much self
consciousness in writing is not a
good thing," he says. "I'd rather
work practically." Even so, he

says that Relative Stranger is
about "chance encounters and
people who suddenly meet." He
says, "These people would like to
have no limits in life but they
learn they must live with certain
kinds of limits."
One of his short stories,
"Gryphon," made it into the Best
American Short Stories of 1986
and also was made into a network
television After School Special.
The story is about Miss Ferenczi,
an enigmatic woman who substi-
tutes for a grade school in Five
Oaks. She spends the days allow-

womanhood. "Men have
strength," she says, "but not true
magic. That is why men fall in
love with women but women do
not fall in love with men: they
just love being loved."
Miss Ferenczi then tells the
children's futures with tarot cards.
When the death card is revealed
for a boy, she says, "That one
means you will die soon, my
dear."
Though Baxter was pleased
that his story was made into a
movie at all, he was also disap-
pointed. The movie was Holly-
woodized: they gave the rural set-
ting an urban one and also made
the finish into a happy ending. In
the story, Miss Ferenczi is sent
home after the boy runs to the
principle, scared of his impending
death. But the more important dif-
ference, Baxter notes, is that "the
movie was ultimately about
imagination and how you could
teach it in school. It was all
sweetness and light. This is not
true."
Instead, he says that
"Gryphon" is about "when you
let imagination have full power
- it is about the darkenings that
come out." Dark indeed: Miss
Ferenczi's last words to the boy
that got the death tarot card are,
"But do not fear... It's not really
death, so much as change." Then
she puts away the cards and an-
nounces to the class, "Let's do
some arithmetic."
CHARLES BAXTER will be
reading from A Relative Stranger
today in the Michigan Union
Pendleton Room at 4 p.m.

by Rebecca Novick
A fter watching the University
Players' production of Reynold
Price's August Snow , the poetic ac-
count of the daily trials of a young
North Carolina couple, what remains
in my head are frozen images - rose
petals on the backdrop, a woman in
a rocking chair. While the produc-
tion made me think about relation-
ships as director Richard Klautsch
had promised, I did not believe the
"action" of August Snow.
The action is Neal Avery's (Matt
Letscher) progression toward a re-
nunciation of his boyhood. He
should have been propelled towards
this recognition by his wife Taw's
(Christine Fenno) ultimatums.
However, in both the written play

and the production, Taw lacks the
power to do this.
The first scene where Taw con-
fronts Neal should have motivated
the rest of the play, but the dialogue
by Price does not give the actors
time to build to a convincing con-
flict. We have no way to gauge the
severity of their quarrel, so the scene
is not enough to explain their behav-
ior through the rest of the play.
Also, Taw's idealism and reforming
ambition should have driven the
play. Although Christine Fenno had
many moments where she conveyed
Taw's ambivalence and vulnerabil-
ity, I did not see power or crusading
zeal.
However, the play was still
hauntingly beautiful. It almost hurt
to applaud at the end and disrupt the

peaceful serenity that had been build-
ing for two hours. The actors con-
structed a poetic realm in which
Price's language could transcend into
fantasy. In real life people don't talk
like the characters in this play, but I
wish they did; the dreaminess which
makes such language believable very
successfully pervaded this produc-
tion.
In this landscape the play is
firmly anchored by the characters
Porter, Roma and Genevieve. All
three actors added humor to their per-
formance without sacrificing the
depth of their characters. David Haig
had a particularly good performance
playing a resigned and friendly
Porter, with his willingness to be "a
lighthouse" for Neal (a step beyond a
See AUGUST, page 7

Baxter

ing the children to think that 6 x
8=68 is a "substitute fact," and
entrances them with stories of
pyramids and trees that eat meat.
She tells them that diamonds are
magic and that women wear dia-
monds as a sign of the magic of

Eric Bogosian
Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll
SBK
Eric Bogosian's latest mass me-
dia venture attempts to portray the
disease, squalor, rancor, depravity,
decadence, pollution, dirt, filth and
crime that makes New York City the
most fascinating city in the world.
In this truncated version of his recent
Off-Broadway one-man show, Bo-
gosian portrays 11 characters who
represent the moral and physical de-
spair of a rapidly rotting Big Apple.
Bogosian's characterizations are
precise and caustic satires of the
slightly off-colored tiles in Mayor
David Dinkins' "gorgeous mosaic."
Bogosian mocks the self-destructive,
hiccoughing, hoarse laugh of that
guy you knew in high school who
would drop a whole pack of No-Doz
in a glass of coke to get some kind
of buzz and still does when he can't
find any cocaine or grass or grain al-
cohol or methamphetamines or
banana peels or porn flicks with the
accuracy and hilarity of a Ginsu
knife (commercial). He then goes on

Practicing Pharm.D.'s discuss
Career Options
for
Doctor of Pharmacy graduates
A U-M College of Pharmacy seminar
open to all students
Tuesday, October 16 7-9 p.m.
. 3554 C.C. Little Bldg.
(corner of Church & Geddes)
College staff members will be present to answer
questions about admissions to U-M Doctor of
Pharmacy program.

to attack the once-decaying rock
singer who is now "clean" ("the
thing about drugs is that you're hav-

ing such a good time when you're
on them, that you don't realize what
See RECORDS, page 7

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

V.

Wj

Get the Pact
Dail

Apple Announces a New Line of Computers!
U-M Announces Immediate Delivery of Selected
Configurations to KickOff '90 Purchasers

Macintosh Classic 2140
$1,257
Apple's replacement for the Macintosh SE
Macintosh Wsi2/40
$2,898
or
Macintosh Wsi5/80
$3,381
Entry level lci. hgh Performance,

Yes!

The University of Michigan has made special arrangements with
Apple to allow KickOff '90 purchasers to change their orders to
either the Macintosh Classic or the Ilsi. All Macintosh SE 2/40

orders have automatically been changed to the new Macintosh Classic 2/40.
If you prefer to keep your original Macintosh SE order, you MUST submit a
Change Order Form by the deadline below.
The new Apple systems are also available to SE/30 and Ici purchasers just by
changing your order. Change Order Form packets were mailed to all KickOff '90
Macintosh purchasers on October 12th. Watch your mailbox! Additional forms are
also available at the Computer Showcase in the Michigan Union.

rruorurr

Act now!

- See the new systems at the Computer Showcase in the Michigan Union.
Reopening Monday, October 15th through Thursday, October 18th, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
* You must fill out a Change Order Form and drop it off at the Computer Showcase

I

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