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March 30, 1993 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-30

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily -Tuesday, March 30, 1993

Madsen's mixed bag
by Andy Schafer that my approach to life and existence

Take the storytelling genius of Hans
Christian Andersen, add Soren
Kierkegaard's philosophy, throw in a
dash of science fiction and a portion of
humor and the result is the writing of
renowned Danish author Svend Age
Madsen. While most of his works are in
print solely in Danish, Madsen's novel
"Virtue and Vice in the Middletime" has
recently been translated into English
Madsen's fiction is original, bizarre
andhumorous. "I blendphilosophy and
humor to make my work more read-
able," he said "I also like to blend genres
and styles. For me, sticking to one style
makes a book lose'its intensity."
Humor is an essential part of
Madsen's writing. "My early novels
were more heavy with philosophy," he
said, "They were, and still are, very
popular in France. My later novels have
more appeal to Americans, though, I
think because American humor is more
like Danish humor, especially in terms
of the fascination with puns." His use of
puns makes for some loss in translation.
"It's the price you have to pay, but I
don't think it's all lost," he said.
Madsen's heritage has had quite an
influence on him. "At first, I was some-
what upset when I saw people identify-
ing me with other Danish writers like
Kierkegaard,Andersenand Blixen [bet-
ter known to most Americans as Isak
Dinesen], since I saw myself following
more in the tradition of Kafka, Beckett
and James Joyce," he said, "I now see
'Not About
by Liz Shaw

may be considered Danish or at least
regional. My tradition lives in me, and
it takes on a natural tone in my books."
Madsen's educational background
is in the arts. "Growing up, I knew only
two thinks I liked: to write and to play,"
he said. As a youth, he played trumpet
and was influenced by the jazz tradition
of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
"Writing took over, though," he ex-
plained, "Once my first book came out
and was successful, I knew that was
what I wanted to keep doing."
And he's been doing it for quite
some time. Madsen's first novel, "The
Visit," was published in 1963, and he's
been writing steadily since. His early
novels were more or less experimental.
"Sort of post-modernism ahead of its
time," Madsen said, "I was sortofin the
ranks of the avant-garde, andI think that
made my early work a little less read-
able. Over the years, I became familiar
with different genres of pop literature.
Crime stories were probably my favor-
ite. I learned from them and was able to
make my novels more readable and
accessible to a large audience." As a
result, Madsen's later novels tend to, in
his words, "run a little faster through
you," while still leaving an impact.
One would assume that the humor
and philosophy of aDanish author would
have littleappealoutsideofScandinavia.
Such is not the case with Madsen. His
early novels were well received in liter-
ary circles in France, and his work is

Honeymoon is over,
time to face reality

by Alison J. Levy
The three hints that an upcoming
movie will be a bomb are when the
release date keeps being pushed back
several years, the studio stops talking

Danish author Svend Age Madsen reads at Rackham tonight.

translated into many European lan-
guages. In Estonia, for example, with a
population of 1.5 million, 50,000 cop-
ies of "Virtue and Vice in the
Middletime" have been published, a
remarkable quantity. He regrets the high
price of his English translations (list
price for "Virtue and Vice" is $78), but
still feels that he has something to say to
an American audience.
Madsen's light treatment of heavy
topics makes his books intriguing and
compelling. While the length of the
novels is somewhat intimidating ("Vir-
tueand Vice": 573 pages), andMadsen's
obscurity in this country makes his work
hard to find, his stories are quite palat-

able and enjoyable. His fresh insights
and wit make for great reading.
Besides reading from his work this
afternoon, Madsen will also talk about
his favorite subject, himself. "I would
like to discuss my books and the influ-
ence of the Scandinavian approach to
life on literature and the arts, as well as
the other way around. I'd also like to
talk about how I blend styles of litera-
ture and what effect that has on the
reader's viewpoint.'
SVEND AGE MADSEN will be
speaking today at 4 p.m. at the East
Conference Room in the Rackham
Building. A reception willfollow at
the Shaman Drum.

Married To It
Written by Janet Kovalcik ; directed by
Arthur Hiller; with Beau Bridges,
Stockard Chaning, Robert Sean
Leonard, Mary Stuart Masterson, Cybill
Shepperd, and Ron Silver.
about it and changes the ads and finally
ifitstars Melanie Griffith.Thenew film
"Married To It"covers the first two, but
lacks the Melanie factor which might
push this film over the edge into enter-
tainingly bad. But, half the actors give
goodperformancesandhalfdon't. Some
of the dialogue is funny and some isn't.
Sometimes the audience is awake and
sometimes they aren't. In fact, this
movie, may just be the height of medi-
ocrity in filmmaking.
The story revolves around three di-
verse couples: the hippies John (Beau
Bridges) and Iris (Stockard Channing),
the yuppies Claire (Cybill Shepperd)
and Leo (Ron Silver) and the hicks with
three names Nina (Mary Stuart
Masterson). And oh-so coincidentally,
they meet at a school fundraiser where
Nina works and the others are parents.
Well, after one uncomfortable dinner
party they all become fast friends and
then they all almost get divorces at the
same time, but they don't. They even
throw in subplots about step-parents
and Wall Street scandals to spice it up.
Sound exciting? Well, it's not.
Perhaps if this film were amazing,
this review could be a gush-fest, or if it
werehorrid, itcouldbe fiendishly funny,
but basically it's so middle-of-the-road
there's nothing to say about it. So, let's
see. It's a damn good thing we won that
basketball game. It always gets a little
nerve racking for a while. And how
about Hash Bash? It's just a few days
away. Hopefully. That should be foggy
and fun. Also, there are some great

concerts coming up at the Michigan.
They're nothing like the dopey sixties
songs these characters tried to dreg t.
Tickets are on s: T now and tWerp
pretty fucking cheap.IFor seniors, eithe -
fourth year or fifth (or maybe even
sixth) graduation is just around the cor-
ner. That's exciting. Lots of gifts, money
and depression. Plus, maybe even some
ofthose people will havejobs other than
atthe video store or a restaurant. Or they
got acceptance to grad school and wil
become elementary school psycholo-
gists like Mary Stuart Masterson. They
can charge seventy bucks an hour and
afford to add a middle name too. Even
more exciting. Everyone else will go on
summer vacation or hang around Ann
Arbor for a summer of fun. They could
meet someone raunchy like Claire who
has lots of money, swears constantly
and has sex even more than that. That's
anice way to spend the summer months.
Or they can patch up things with their
evil step-mother like Leo's daughter
Lucy. Good for the soul. Otherwise they
might just get interesting jobs so theyA
can see movies when it rains, and hope-
fully they'll be better or worse than-
"Married To It."
MARRIED TO IT is playing at
Showcase.

Whilenotexpecting to enjoy a two character, two
hour play about World War I English poets, I must
say that "Not About Heroes" was funny and enjoy-
able. The characters Wilfred Owen (John Stokes)
Not About Heroes
Performance Network
March 27,1993
and Siegfried Sassoon (John Reneaud) drew the
audience into their conversations and war-time cor-
respondences with wit and charm, not to mention
the wonderful way the two actors played off of one
another.
"Not About Heroes" is the true story of two
soldiers. The play was written using the diaries and
letters of the two men who were famous poets of
their time. The play opens somewhere in the middle
of the story of Owen and Sassoon's friendship, as
Owen is leaving the army hospital where hehas been

roes,'just about
_ placed because ofhis emotional inability to deal with
the war on the front lines. He is returning to service
as Sassoon also wishes he could, however Sassoon,
an excellentsoldier and leader, has been placed in the
hospital to keep him from causing trouble amongst
the troops. Sassoon decided, after being decorated
for bravery, that the war was a big hoax, and that it
could be stopped by those in power, but they did not
wish to stop it. The higher-up's put him in the
hospital to keep him quiet, or to at least keep him far
enough away from the war that no one could hear
what he had to say. It was through his poetry that he
expressed his views from then on, so that his dissent-
ing voice could still be heard throughout the war.
Owen was a great fan of Sassoon's and aspiring
poet himself. It wasn't until he was put in the
hospital, and in contact with Sassoon, that he consid-
ered writing seriously. It was through Sassoon's
encouragement and ever strengthening friendship
that Owen became one of the greatest English poets
of his time. It is from Owen's poem "Dedication"

friendship
that the name of the play comes from. "This book is
not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to
speak of them," Owen wrote.
After the first scene, the play flashes back to
Owen's realization that Sassoon is in the same
hospital, and shows Owen's first encounter with the
poet. One can tell that although the poet seems
grumpy and sarcastic, he is innocent, shy and ever-
pleasing Owen will become quick and close friends.
The play itself was wonderfully done, with the
exception of a few missed beats (which were recov-
ered from promptly) by both Stokes and Reneaud. It
is made quite obvious that both have extensive
experience in theatre, with "Not About Heroes"
marking Reneaud's third time acting with the Perfor-
mance Network. Stokes has worked with groups at
1515 Broadway, the Theatre CompanyandtheMichi-
gan Opera Theatre. Director Harry Wetzel, an actor
himself, has appeared in many local plays and is
currently directing another play at Greenfield Vil-
lage called "Room Service".

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