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November 14, 1991 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-14

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*The Michigan Daily

Thursday, November 14, 1991

Page 5

Hagy is not a
literary cliche
Local author of Madonna On
Her Back is unique, unorthodox

plot fails

by A. J. Hogg
have a lot of diverse interests...
just so I don't come off as a literary
cliche," says Alyson Hagy, who is
not a literary clich6, despite her
concerns that she may appear to be
one. Sure, when she was in Ireland,
Hagy visited Yeats' grave. And I'll
grant you that she reads all the
expected authors - "Faulkner,
Hemingway, the regulars," she says.
And the fact that Hagy was a mem-
ber of the charter class of the
University's graduate creative writ-
ing program, and is currently a lec-
turer in the University's English
Department, shouldn't really sway
you one way or the other. And even

written two books, Madonna On
her Back and hardware River, both
collections of short stories. Many
are set in Virginia, the rural and
small town communities south of
the Mason-Dixon line. And most
include a rich portrayal of wild an-
"My husband and I like to bird-
watch," Hagy explains. "It shows
up in my fiction. We're also really
interested in the ecology of mam-
mals, so we sort of have a fox den
that we keep our eye on every spring,
and also where a pair of nesting
great horned owls hang out. We like
to watch them and see if we can spot
the owlets, stuff like that."
The animals in Hagy's stories,
from the strange heron that latches
on to a loner in the title story of
hardware River to the birds of prey
in "Kettle of Hawks," give insight
and help to explain the emotional
behavior of the characters closest to
The best quality in Hagy's fic-
tion is its remarkable sense of
wholeness. Not a word is wasted as
she evokes the gamut of human emo-
tions in her characters. The stories
chart the flows of energy that lie
just below the human facade, until
they have gained the strength to
break the surface and return to sight,
as in this passage from "A Seeming
"He told me he would dream it
again and again: Anna in the orchid
room, her jacket hothouse glass. She
trembles like the lip of a cymbid-
ium. The flowers are bleeding red
and gold, blooming and wilting in a
chorus of motion. He is there, be-
tween the Odontoglossum and the
Phalaenopsis, but she does not see
him, does not move. Even when a
white-veined petal falls at her feet,
he is still. Not frozen, but still. His
scent is undetectable. The fallen
petal, feeble as a wayward child,
quivers, but she doesn't touch it. If
she did, her hand would drop below
the horizon of her handbag, past the
clay pots and agile stems, and she
might touch him. His eyes would
spread with oil, venous blood."
For those who have already read
Hagy's work, she promises, "If you
come on Thursday, I'll give you a
dose of something completely dif-
ferent." The spotlight will be on
her novel-in-progress. It's not yet
titled, but Hagy expects it to be
published in the first half of 1993.
"The basic plot. involves a
teenage girl who wants to run away
from home and become a country-
western singer," she explains.
"That's a gross oversimplification,
but that is, in essence, what the plot
is about. It's set in a small,
fictional, rural county in Virginia,
not unlike the one I grew up in, set.
in the mid 1970s, and it involves her
See HAGY, Page 8

Strictly Business
dir. Kevin Hooks


by Brent Edwards
T he people who made Strictly
Business must have used the title as
their working philosophy during
production of the movie: keep ev-
erything strictly business, as by-the-
rules as possible, with no room for
originality. Strictly Business seems
to have been made from a plot-o-
mat, where plot features are chosen
from different category groups to
obtain a New Movie Hit.
Under the category of Crowd
Drawing Factor, the producers chose
a Young Hot Comedian, in this case
Tommy Davidson, the critically ac-
claimed actor who plays Homey the
Clown on In Living Color. Davidson
portrays Bobbie Johnson, a mail-
room worker in a big firm with
plans on working his way up. Under
the category of Star, the producers
chose a Handsome Stud, and Joseph
C. Phillips fits here as Waymon
Tinsdale III, an executive who is
friends with the Crowd Drawing
Under Plot Driving Device we
got Seeks Hot Babe, an object of de-
sire named Natalie, played by Nalle
Berry. Tinsdale falls in love with
Natalie after seeing her at a restau-
rant and, of course, Bobby Johnson is
her friend. Tinsdale agrees to help
Johnson get into an executive train-
ing program if Johnson sets him up
with Natalie.
Finally, under Roadblock To
Success, the producers chose Jealous
And Evil Colleague, who is physi-
calized by David Marshall Grant as
David. No category is needed for
Resolution, since it goes without'


H agy
if she did win the 1984 major fiction
Hopwood award, you really
oughtn't think Hagy is any sort of
clich6. I've got proof.
"Actually, I read a lot of detec-
tive fiction, genre fiction," Hagy
says. What?! Surely she must mean
something highbrow, perhaps mis-
taking Dickens' Bleak house as a
mere detective story. "Elmore Leo-
nard, John D. MacDonald, Scott
Turow," she continues. "I like to
read for fun." For fun? Certainly
literary clich6s can't spare any of
their angst time to read for fun!
But Hagy manages just that. "I
read everything I can get my hands
on," she asserts in a voice that still
has traces of her native Virginia in it
(rather like Georgia, but watered
down a hundred to one). This claim
certainly seems true, for in the
course of our conversation, she cov-
ers just about every type of fiction
"Like most people in my field, I
have dabbled in Shakespeare and me-
dieval stuff in the past, but I think
we tend to locate our reading, or our
ideal, in the nineteenth and twenti-
eth centuries," she says. "I've al-
ways been a fan of those big, murky,
passionate nineteenth century nov-
els." .
Hagy's own fiction, however, is
-entirely contemporary. She has

Bertram (David Wilcox, backs and Leopold Nettles (Troy Sill, front) are
two nervous, troubled characters from Vaclav Havel's Largo Desolato.
A president who can
wY rite his own speech
by Austin Ratner
As a playwright, president of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel brings an
added dimension to politics - he writes his own speeches for one thing,
which is more than we can say for old Poppy Bush.
Havel's infusion of artistic talent into the process of political change in
his country is one of the qualities which draws Professor Philip Kerr to
Havel's work. Kerr, Director of Performance Training at the University, is
directing Havel's Largo Desolato at the Performance Network. Kerr says
he is inspired by this "dark comedy," which portrays a fictional professor's
angst under the surveillance of a censoring and repressive government.
In the 1970s, Havel was imprisoned as a human rights activist under the
old totalitarian rule in Czechoslovakia. He supported free expression in his
country both publicly and underground. "What Havel has stood for has
now been a catalyst in causing change - it's natural that he should be presi-
dent," says Kerr, who contrasts Havel with one of our own former presi-
dents, whom he describes as having been "dimly connected with the the-
ater." This former president shall remain brainless - I mean, nameless.
"(The play) is not preachy. It can engage you," assures Kerr. Kerr says
that he feels the play owes a lot to Samuel Beckett in its combination of
humor and desperation in an abstract and almost absurdly tortuous sce-
nario. Kerr sees in Largo, a vision-of hell which instills terror in audiences.
Because of Havel's promotion of free expression and art "for and by the
people," so to speak, Kerr also feels it appropriate that Largo run at the
Performance Network, which he describes as an equivalent of off-off-
Broadway in Ann Arbor. The not-for-profit Network depends on public
funding and is fond of experimental works. Last year, the Network pre-
sented Havel's The Memorandum .
LARGO DESOLATO opens tonight at the Performance Network, 408 W.
Washington, and will run through December 1. Shows are Thursdays,
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $9
general admission and $7 students and seniors.
' _

saying that Handsome Stud gets
Hot Babe and thwarts the Jealous
And Evil Colleague, while the
Young Hot Comedian ends up smil-
It's interesting to note that
Samuel Jackson, the actor who
played the memorable role of crack
addict Gator in Jungle Fever, has a
supporting role in Strictly Business.
His small part as a mailroom man-
ager highlights his talent, since it is
impossible to think of Jackson,in
this role, as the same person who
played Gator.
Phillips is annoying as Tinsdale,
a buppie who acts whiter than Woh-
See BIZ, Page 8

who what where when

In the mood for some intense
stroking, groping, fondling and, uh,
laughing without apology? Four
play - Ann Arbor's new improvi-
sational comedy troupe - will let
you do just that during their debut
tonight at the U-Club. The 45
minute show - hey, they've got one
women and three men, so they
should be able to sustain it - will
begin at 11. Admission will be de-
termined by the toss of a coin: heads
-$1, tails - $2. The audience will
be invited to help thrust the show

through and past its climax...
The Fantasticks, the longest
running off-Broadway musicalin
history, comes to the University
campus this weekend, thanks to
UAC and their annual Soph show.
Perhaps the musical's longevity
stems from the universality of its
issues, from leaving home to first
love to rape. The Fantasticks willbe
at Mendlessohn Theater tonight
through Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets
are $5.50 in advance/$6.50 door.



Who can you turn to when your town
lacks women of moral character?
Albert Herring

is iydeis n.
Se o rJ s en e s n S 1 1rde ai s

Some resfrkcfolsd~o appi.
Odtrsm msbe receivedby 1Tha*vnkghdny .

Order your college ring NOW.


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