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October 16, 1992 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-10-16

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The Michigan Daily

Friday, October 16, 1992

Page 8

Josephine Hart
It seems reasonable to expect a lot from a writer who makes continual
claim to biblical profundity. Josephine Hart's new novel "Sin," a tale of bit-
ter sibling rivalry in modem bourgeois England, postures as a modern Gen-
esis but reads like Moses' Passover matzo - thin, bland and half-baked.
The speaker-protagonist Ruth - inironic contrast to her compassionate
biblical namesake - is a fiery, articulate beauty driven by a ruthless desire
to destroy her cousin, who was as a baby taken into Ruth's parents' care.
In a stark narrative, Ruth describes her lifelong envy of Elizabeth, whose
portion of parental love young Ruth covets and relentlessly pursues. As an
adolescent, Ruth steals Elizabeth's playthings; as a teenager, she pilfers
sis's clothes; and as a woman, Elizabeth's lovers and husband are the tar-
gets. From ragdolls to spouses, Ruth always gets what she wants then casts
off the prize, for her pleasure is only in permanent injury to her sister's life.
Ruth's seductiveness augments her hawkish lust to facilitate her conquests.
As in her first, best-selling novel "Damage," Hart conceives a young
woman whose early pain leaves her predisposed to greed and stealth. This
time, however, Hart fails to explain the source of her villain's ferocity.
There is no reason to believe Elizabeth has ever done anything to warrant
this attack; worse, since Ruth appears one-dimensional and vindictive with-
out reason, no readerly rapport develops.
Hart sends us on a frustrating search for the missing chapter - what
have the. Fates inflicted upon Ruth to provoke such hostility? Ruth asks
rhetorically (with typical gravity), "What if the Lord had been pleased by
Cain's gift? Would Cain ever have disturbed the sleeping monster in him-
self?" Cain's murder of brother Abel was prompted by divine rejection; no
suc rejection, parental or otherwise, drives Ruth Garton, Hart's kinslayer.
Sh is all effect, no cause - a physicist's enigma, a legacy for Jimmy Dean,
but a real drag in prose fiction.
It is refreshing, however, to see a woman play the libidinous carnivore;
the men in "Sin" all snap beneath feminine will. Hart is at her best in con-
versation scenes, where she places us behind the mask of a sophisticated
socialite who knows others better than they know themselves and will take
advantage of every opportunity to exercise this leverage. The reader experi-
ences not only the dialogue, but also internal motivations that Ruth articu-
lates through her narrative.
Elizabeth's husband Charles Harding, a CEO shark who over tea and
scones asserts, "We're discussing worldly matters, and in worldly matters I
like:to dominate," is reduced to a groveling blueballed fool between Ruth's
sheets. Her dictum: "Better to be feared than loved. Best to be feared and
loved." A new angle on family values?
The grandiose concerns of this book are nothing less than the relation-
ship between God and human, the tension of family, and the criterion for
personal sin. "Which of us has his desire, or having it is satisfied?" quotes
Ruth from Thackeray. "Like Satan before the Fall," she draws from Milton,
"I came to hate the very nature of goodness." The entire novel seems simi-
larly lifted from monumental English texts.
Hart's ambition eclipses her talent, which lies in keen observation of so-
cial dynamics. It all comes off like an overblown soap opera that we're
watching on stage: Susan Lucci does "Carmen." Don't waste an evening at
this event - you can catch it between classes on the afternoon tube.
-Mick Weinstein
No Heroics, Please
Raymond Carver
Random House
When Raymond Carver died in 1989, at the age of 50, he left behind a
reputation as a writer of the first order, built mainly upon his collections of
short stories "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" and
"Cathedral." "No Heroics, Please" collects all of Carver's unpublished writ-
ings: stories he wrote while in college, a fragment of a novel, poems, book
reviews, introductions, "meditations" and "occasions." The result is a work
more suited to the aficionado, or student of Carver, rather than to a reader
interested in discovering the power of Carver's best work.
The stories in "No Heroics, Please" provide a glimpse into the evolution
See BOOKS, Page 9

What's so funny? Everyday life

by Kim Gaines
To live life and to create art: can
these two ideas be intertwined into
one common theme? Can the human
life of mating, domestic squabbles
and old age be classified as art?
These are the questions tackled by
DavidGordon, director and chore-
ographer of "The Mysteries and
What's So Funny," which will be
performed at the Michigan Theater
this weekend.
A bizarre presentation with con-
stant motion and sound, this produc-
tion asks whether everyday life and
the domestic problems which go
with it can qualify as 'art' of any
"All of those stories of how to
make art and how to make a life to-
gether are all intertwined," Gordon
said. "The Mysteries" explores these
two secrets and how to discover
Most well known for his depic-
tion of art as a defaced 'Mona Lisa,'
Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp
captured art in everyday life and ev-
eryday objects. Just as Duchamp
tried to frame representations of
normal life, Gordon explores the
possibility of physically framing ex-
ceptional, art-worthy moments in re-
"A moment or a circumstance is
framed so that you give it special at-
tention in much the same way that
an artist makes something and calls
your attention to it by saying 'This is
my art' ," Gordon said.
One of the everyday families be-
ing framed is Sam and Rose, who
are shown at four different stages in

their life. "They have tried to iden-
tify how to have a life together and
how to stay together all of that
time," Gordon explained. They are
now in their 70s and are reflecting
on how their relationship has grown
and changed.
"The Mysteries" combines the
talents of three very unique artists
and is filled with word puns, con-
stant action, exhilarating and excit-
ing, scenery and images.
Philip Glass composed the solo
piano score which runs continuously
throughout the show. "There is very
infrequently silence behind the talk-
ing," Gordon explained. "Most of
the time there is music."
Visual artist Red Grooms created
the unique, versatile and moveable
scenery. "The actors are moving ev-
erything all the time, creating the
scenes and disbanding them," said
Gordon began his career in dance
in the 1960s. Since then, he has
formed his own dance company and
choreographed various performances
across the country.
"The Mysteries and What's So
Funny?" should be a unique oppor-
tunity for students to witness creativ-
ity and art at its best; but then, isn't
life itself the best kind of art?

FUNNY? will be performed Sunday,
October 18 at 8 p.m. at the
Michigan Theater. Tickets are $25,
$19.50, $12.50 (students) and are
available at the Michigan Theater
Box Office or charge by phone 668-
8397. The Mysteries and What's So Funny" should fit right in here in Ann Arbor.

Philippe Saire's enchanted, ethereal dream

by Laura Alantas
A lone man, dressed as a bellhop,
entered and began to prepare the
stage. He turned on the music, an
extract from Ravel's Piano Concerto
in G, but then forgot his job of set-
ting the lights on stage. He smiled to
himself and proceeded to dance.
This was Puck, the master of
Shakespeare's "A Midsummer
Night's Dream," and the master of
the four young lovers we would
soon meet. This was also Philippe
Saire setting his piece "The Life and
Morals of a Night Chameleon" into
motion. This was the beginning of a

beautiful dream.
The Philippe Saire Dance Com-
pany (Mark Berthon, Charles Line-
han, Philippe Saire, Julie Salgues
and Rahel Vonmoos) invited its au-
Phillippe Saire
Studio A
October 13, 1992
dience on an enchanted trip into the
world that exists only at the end of
the party. That time when your body
is exhausted, but something keeps
you going, keeps you moving. For
the two couples whose ever-chang-
ing relationships the audience fol-
lowed, that something was Puck
himself. Whether throwing explod-
ing caps at their feet or sending a ca-
ressing blow or shooting them a
look, Puck wound up these charac-
ters and put them into action, into
As choreographer, Saire adapted
two themes from "A Midsummer
Night's Dream:" the manipulation
by external forces and the desire to
imitate. Puck served as that outside
influence who, by slightly adjusting
one of the four dancers' center focus

and thereby changing the direction
in which the character traveled,
could alter the coupling of the char-
acters, and the outcome of the
evening. The expressionless faces of
the four young lovers reflected the
fact that the characters were not
acting of their own volition. Only
when Puck directed one of the char-
acters to seduce another did the
lovers look at one another with a de-
sire in their eyes.
The theme of imitation ran
throughout the entire performance.
Almost from the moment the two
dead-tired couples made their en-
trance, they imitated Puck, who
taught them combinations, but then
quickly retreated to the perimeters of
the stage in order to better observe
his handiwork. His job was complete
once he had them moving in perfect
sync. Our exhausted characters, who
at points seemed to spend more time
lying on the floor than dancing on it,
had the ability to mimic one another
completely and fully. The limp arms
and bobbing heads, like those of a
well-manipulated marionette (which
they were), all moved in fluid,
graceful rhythm with the music.
The characters soon, though,
started to mimic one another, or the

object of their sexual desire. Now,
the two couples simultaneously
performed the same combinations,
or one woman followed the other's
steps, or the couples switched part-
ners. The versatility of the Company
shined during these times when any
dancer could easily fall into the steps
that another dancer had already
started. Quickly, the audience forgot
who was imitating whom.
The tremendous precision that
the Company achieved during the
entire performance helped relate the
dream-like state that Saire's inspired
choreography captured. In addition
to the ethereal quality of the move-
ments, though, a great amount of
athleticism was displayed. Each
couple executed many non-tradi-
tional spinning shoulder lifts where
the woman draped herself around
her partner in unlikely positions. At
one point, one couple demonstrated
a lift which required the woman to
run from across the stage into the
capable arms of her partner not
once, not twice, but thirteen times!
When the couple finally moved on
to the next section, the audience
gasped almost as much as the
woman who had made that prepara-
tory sprint over a dozen times.

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