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October 02, 1992 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-10-02

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 2, 1992- Page 9

Neglected
*author
recollects
a colonial
*:Barbados
byJohn Morgan ___
George Lamming, a native of
Barbados, certainly ranks among the
most neglected writers of contemnpo-
rary literature. i s works, especially
his first novel, "In the castle of My
Skin," (1953) are considered
ground-breaking in that they have
proven to the natives of the
* Caribbean that their home land is
something that can be dealt with in
fiction. He has been mentioned as a
possible candidate for the Nobel
Prize ... and yet hardly anyone rec-
ognizes his name.
"It's shocking that more people
don't know who he is," said Joanna
Rubiner, a publicist at the University
of Michigan Press, which has
reprin ted three of Ia unm ing' s books
*and has plans for several more. She
feels that this is a result of a bias in
our educational system. "It's only
recently that schools have started
teaching African-American writers,
let alone writers from other coun-
ties," she said.
La mming's work looks into the
people of a land once subjected to
European colonization, and the ef-
.fect this has had on the culture of the
area. His novels call for a confronta-
tion between the peoples of the
Caribbean and their colonial past.
Lo-mrming has also revised percep-
tions of Shakespeare's "The Tein-
pest,"which he sees as an allegory
for the relationship between Euro-
pean colonists and those who were
colonized. Lammuing examines the
psychology of both groups in an at-
Otemrpt to characterize this often un-
pleasant part of our history.
In addition to the contribution he
has made to literature, Lamming is
considered a major force in the
African diaspora. Many writers have
matned himn as a source of inspira-
tion, including the poet Edward
Bcathiwaite. He spends much of his
tipme traveling, and as a result has
become a sort of ambassador for his
Wpeople and culture. "lie is a tower-
'IT fi gure, and also quite a statesman
because he has had so many
connections with other writers in
other countries," Rubiner said. "H-e
stays true to his country. So often a
writer will make it big and leave the
homeland behind."
Lamming's other achievements
are numerous. Hle has lived in the
U.S. and Great Britain. As a jour-
*nalist he was involved in the strug-

Band breeds eclectic teenbeats

Lamming

by Greg Baise
Unrest sounds like a more or
less non-hokey "love rock" band
produced by Martin Hlannett, only
better. They kind of didn't used to,
but that was then, and this is, well,
this is inrest, with a new British
label (Guernica -- which is the
new project of 4AD1 gauze collec-
tor Ivo), a new bass player since
the last time we heard from them,
and one of the best albums of the
year -- "Imperial f.f.r.r.' It comes
on like a beautiful late sum-
mner/early autunmn afternoon that
begins with a picnic, continues
through hours of intimacy, and
ends with a stellar musical cre-
ation.
The band keeps getting better
and better, maturing from their
days of guitar monster/folk-rock/
Kiss cover luxtapositions into
something that makes the sublime
Galaxie 500 seem uninspired and
makes the Joy Division/ Factory
heyday seem like yesterday. As
drummer Phil Krauth explained, "I
think we're just doing the stuff we
really want to do, as opposed to
just kind of goofing off."

"Imperial f.f.r.r." (on No. 6
here in the States) strips both the
unbridled vortex guitars of
"Kustom Karnal Blackxploita-
tion" and the avant-Kiss-Elvis-
goof productions of "Malcolm X
Park" and focuses on the vintage
Factory-ish feel of early songs like
"The Hill" in a quite unembarrass-
ing fashion.
Krauth sees this streamlining
as indicative of Unrest's future di-
rection: "I think it's not going to
be as erratic or hard-edge sound-
ing." Still there's the modern lov-
ing propulsion of "Suki," the hal-
leludubbed "Champion Nines,"
and the acoustic ballad "Isabel,"
all to be found on their latest "full
frequency range recording."
Unrest was founded in Wash-
ington, D.C. in 1985, when gui-
tarist/touching wordsmith/quite
cultured guy Mark E. Robinson
and Krauth were still in high
school. The band culled its name
from the second Henry Cow
record, as Robinson explained:
"We were listening to old King
Crimson records, and things like

that, and I think somebody just
kind of accidentally picked up on
that, because this one record store
we went to sold a lot of art rock
stuff, and they had all of these
strange albums with socks on
them. Those were the Henry Cow
records, for $4.99. So we bought
them, and they were really good
stuff."
When the band started out,
Robinson started his own record
label, Teenbeat. "We used to
make tapes of our friends' bands
and we would sell them around
school," he said. One of the more
recent Teenbeat releases has been
a CD edition of "The Tube Bar,"
which are recordings of a series of
prank phone calls to "Red," the
proprietor of the eponymous bar.
No doubt these recordings influ-
enced Bart Simpson's similar ef-
forts.
Robinson explained that this
was one of the label's most popu-
lar recordings: "Teenbeat is a
small, independent label, and we
usually don't do more than two
thousand of anything. But of the
Tube Bar we've probably done

four thousand, which is pretty
amazing considering that it's not
music."
Rounding out the Unrest lineup
is bassist Bridget Cross, who
joined the band about a year and a
half ago. She said, "I hadn't really
been playing bass until I started
with Unrest. For some reason they
wanted me to do it - God only
knows why!" Before joining Un-
rest, Cross sang with Velocity
Girl. After joining Unrest she
sounded like a mixture of a dubby
Holger Czukay, a straight-ahead
Peter Hook, and an electric Mod-
em Lovers-era Ernie Brooks.
That sounds like the makings
of a band you can be proud of, and
Unrest sounds like the best band
in America right now. But that's
only because they are. Screw Na-
tion of Ulysses, Superchunk, Pix-
ies, Lemonheads, and all that prep
/ college / 90210 heartthrob stuff.
Unrest is the sassiest band in
America.
UNREST really does fit in be-
tveen HIS NAME IS ALIVE and
THE BREEDERS tonight at St.
Andrew's Hall.

A

gle of African-Americans in Al-
abama during the 1960s. He helped
to establish a connection between
Latin American writers and the
Caribbean, including Cuba, which
he began visiting annually in the
wake of Castro's revolution and
continues to this day. He has known
Langston Hughes, Chinua Achebe
and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Lamming is being brought to
Ann Arbor by the American Culture
Program. Rubiner hopes that this
reading will have a "casual atmo-
sphere" that will allow those attend-
ing to learn more about the man and
his work.
Great minds are too often ne-
glected by their contemporaries, and
this unfortunate trend has once again
taken its toll in George Lamming's
case. But we are now presented with
the opportunity to reverse this situa-
tion. It is still possible to do justice
to the author who has done so much
to document events and places that
are frequently ignored by our own
culture.
GEORGE LAMMING will be read-
ing at the Trotter House tOdaly at 4
pm. Admission is free.

4

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