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April 02, 1996 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-02

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Visiting writer bings love and soul
Alan Williamson, author of "Love and the Soul," reads from his poetry at
4 p.m. today at the Rackham Amphitheatre. It's part of the University
Visiting Writers' Series and it's free. Call 764-6296 for more
information.

Tuesday
April 2,1996

London's liter
By Dean Bakopoulos
Daily Arts Editor
The British press had a field day when Martin Amis,
one ofthe best novelists working today, published "The
Information"last year. Nevermindthe factthatthe novel
is a hilarious and provocative look at the literary world
and the writing mind; the Brits in press row were
concerned with Amis' personal and professional life.
Last spring, as "The Information" was being heralded
one of the best books of the year by The New York
Times Book Review, the British press went into a frenzy
over Amis' marital split, his new girlfriend, his new
agent -who secured an $800,000 advance for the book
- and the infamous falling-out he had with former best
friend and fellow writer Julian
Barnes. Amis, London's literary MARTIN AMP
bad boy, became the talk, and
target, of London literary circles. Where: Rackham, 4t
But with all the hubbub and Amphitheatre.
allyhooing dying down, more When: Tonight. 7:30
ttention is being focused on the Admission is free.
novel itself, just released in pa-
perback by Vintage last week. So Amis now finds
himself in the middle of a US book tour, including
tonight's 7:30 stop at Rackham.
"The Information" is, as is now expected from Amis,
a dark and hilarious tale of two writers at opposite ends
of the literary spectrum, Richard Tull and Gwyn Barry.
Tull reviews books fora living, his own work so lofty and
obscure that no one can get through ten pages of one of
his many aborted novels. Barry is a sort of a Robert
*mes Waller, a New Age hooey peddler, who is wick-
edly successful and also wickedly bad. Tull, 40-years-
old and hitting the midlife crisis stage, vows to get even
with his ex-best friend. It's a biting tale of literary envy
and grotesque characters.who evoke a strange mix of
sympathy and laughter. As Amis said in a telephone
Disaster'
*nUakes for
wild ide

ary badboyc
interview last week, "One reader says his heart lifts a
little each time he reads a phrase like 'Richard Tull was
having a terrible time'."
And Tull hasmany "terrible times," indeed. Amis said
people often wonder how he can be imaginative enough
to create a character like Tull, a failed and bitter writer,
while his own writing career has been incredibly suc-
cessful. "Failure is, funny enough, much more rich and
complex a subject than success," Amis said
"I think we all live in our failures rather than our
successes," he continued. "When you're dealing with
novelists, they naturally have infinitely big egos, so in
some sense they're always disappointed."
In Richard Tull, Amis creates the prototype of a
bitter and seething writer. But
Amis said that, although Tull is an
extreme caricature, he believes all
h floor writers are naturally envious of
their peers, especialy the succesful
p.m ones. "It's part of the job descrip-
tion that you have sort of this ego-
tistical turbulence. But it's usu-
ally under control, though it does need to be there. I
think it's part of literary ambition."
"I think it's a duality, though. Formost ofyour waking
day you are a reasonably modest citizen who wishes
your writer friends well. But just for an hour or so before
you go to bed, you do sort of seethe and boil."
Still, it's doubtful that Amis has any personal need for
seething and boiling. His literary success has been great,
and he stands near the pinnacle of British and American
novelists. Literary heavyweight Saul Bellow went so far
as to hail Amis as the successor to Flaubert and Joyce.
Amis laughs at that comment, saying he doesn't think
Bellow was "at his most cautious" when he made the
statement. Thatpraise, while flattering, Amis said, "tends
to embarass you. But since you have 70 people telling

omes to town
you you're shit as well, it tends to balance out."
His father was Kingsley Amis, a very successful
literary novelist. Amis says his father definitely helped
shape his life. "My father suffered every day when he
was writing, just going into his study was a tremendous
ordeal for him. But suffering and anxiety, that's part of
what you put into it. You have to look at that as fuel, and
not as some sort of wasted feeling."
Amis admits that for him, writing is not such an
ordeal. But he says, partly because of the chaos in his
personal life at the time, "The Information" took him
five long years to complete. He doesn't use a com-
puter either, he notes, and that allows for the impor-
tant "tweaking and reshaping" of revision.
"It's sort ofa longish book," Amis said. "I felt like shit
for the last three months I was working on it. You feel
like you're wading through shit, and then it suddenly
lifts." Amis said it's this last part of the writing process
that gives him energy to finish the work at hand.
Amis recalls writing his first novel, which he did not
attempt to begin until he graduated from college. "I had
a lot ofenergy built up from working very hard in my last
year at university, and that sort of carried over. I wrote
quite a lot of it while I was doing a day job. I worked on
the novel secretly at work, and then in the evenings and
sometimes on mornings and weekends." To young
writers, Amis advises that same persistence. "You just
have to keep at it until you get to the end. You can't be
overcome by doubts."
But no matter what career level they are at, Amis
says it's clear that all writers, like Richard Tull, have
a desire to be at the top of their profession. "I don't
believe a writer who says they're happy to be among
the second division, or even among the third. To be
among the best, you have to think you are the best."
With "The Information" Martin Amis has secured
a niche there, among the best.

British author Martin Amis will be speaking at Rackham Amphitheatre tonight.

Talented cast lifts 'Guys and Dolis'

By Christopher Corbett
Daily Arts Writer
When "Flirting with Disaster" be-
gins, we hear Ben Stiller's contempla-
've voice and see his straight face, as he
onders what his biological parents
(he's adopted) might be like. We go
along with him, hoping the film will
take us for a ride.
When a decrepit old woman smashes
a window on aparked car with a sledge-
hammer two seconds later, we realize
we won't be traveling first class; "Flirt-
ing" takes us for a trip the way a roller
coaster would.
His wife Nancy (Patricia "I'm-so-
cute-you-can-just-squeeze-me"
Arquette) shows us that just about any-
thing can happen on this ride. She
pleases him after he fetches their new-
born son. He - holding the crying
child in his arms precariously - can't
stop her. He says, "He's looking right
down!" but she continues in what may
be a first in the history of sex scenes in
film. Stiller, as Mel, a kind of shoulder-
harness that we hang onto in "Flirting,"
Womes across as the only sane person.
Director David
0. Russell ("Spank-

"i'll show you mine, If you show me yours."

we know there's more on his mind than
the population of Pittsburgh.
Thanks to Russell's smooth, seam-
less transitions, we can't put our finger
on exactly where or when Mel's quest
goes bananas. The ride becomes breezy,
like getting into the car and just going;

REVIEW

ing the Monkey")
proves a maestro at
building momen-
tum with each
scene. A psycholo-
gist, Tina, helps Mel
track down his par-
ents, in order to ob-
erve and film the
reunion for her re-

Flirting with
Disaster
Directed by David O.
Russell; with Ben Stiller
and Patricia Arquette

one ridiculous mo-
ment blends into
another, slightly
more ridiculous
moment.
A computer
screw-up leads
them to the wrong
mother. Mel and
his entourage must
head south, and as
soon as they get to
their motel room,
we hear a cuckoo

color), we know we've arrived at the
screaming point. His parents don't live
in a crack house; they live in an acid
house. As soon as Mel's long-lost
mother opens the door and greets the
group - the inside of the home throb-
bing a deep, groovy red behind her -
we think, "Yesss!"
So Mel winds up opening the door of
his room; he sees Nancy's bisexual
childhood friend sticking his tongue
into her armpit as they sit on her bed
with her shouting, "You deserve it!"-
he says he'll never be able to get the
image out of his head for the rest of his
life. Whoa ... fuh-reaky!
But the hyper-ridiculous climax is
only revving up; Lily Tomlin and Alan
Alda, as Mel's parents, lead the charge
and make us laugh the hardest.
Sure, "Flirting," after zooming with
the speed of hostages, arrests, truck-
plowings, humpty-dancin' freaks, at-
tempted car-jackings, definitions of
fratterism, Indian wrestling and "bitch
boys," doesn't refine any of its charac-
ters. The film, like a roller coaster ride,
ends up right where it started. But,
damn, what a ride.

By Karen Sommer
Daily Arts Writer
When a bunch of gangsters and a
handful of chorus girls meet, you might
expect a Scorsese shoot-'em-up, show-
'em-down flick about the glamour of
the mob. In MUSKET's production of
"Guys and Dolls" this weekend, there
was glamour, but it had little to do with
the Mafia. The story of two gangsters
and the women they love had no guns,
only insinuations of sex, and not a drop
of blood. How, then, did it hold my
interest? Talent.
As if Damon Runyon's stories and
Frank Loesser's lyrics and music
weren't spectacular enough, director T.
Adam Hess assembled this skillful cast
from just about every school/college in
the University. While luck was a lady
on Friday night,bringing in a full house,
luck had nothingto do with MUSKET's
fabulous production.
While at times Andy Sievers, who
played Sky Masterson, looked like he
had borrowed someone else's body for
the night, he made up for it with his
Marlon Brando-esqueperformance. His
crooner's voice was perfect when he
lost himself dreaming about the woman
he'd spend the rest of his life with in
"I'll Know" and then again in "I've
Never Been in Love Before."
Watching Sky fall in love with self-
righteous Sarah Brown (played by
Allison Lane) was not as painful as I
once remembered it. As a matterof fact,
it was fun. Sievers pushed Lane's but-
tons with grace and Lane responded
with the perfect amount of frustration.
The two had chemistry every time they
shared the stage, especially when they
sang. Sarah Brown's soulful moment
during "If I Were A Bell" took on a
double-entendre as Lane's beautiful
voice rang throughout the theater.
Then there was couple No. 2. Randy
Kurstin's perfect New York accent and
even more perfect timing made the lov-
able "no-goodnick" Nathan Detroit
shine. Rather than play Detroit as a
cartoon character, Kurstin played him
three-dimensionally, evoking the
audience's empathy, as three-fourths
comedian, one-fourth dramatist.
With Margaret Chmiel as Kurstin's
leading lady, Miss Adelaide, it's a won-

der he wasn't upstaged. Chmiel was a
show stopper. This singer displayed her
incredible range and versatility in
"Adelaide's Lament," belting out the
close of the ballad. Like Detroit, the
audience could have looked at
Adelaide's silliness and laughed; in-
stead they applauded.
REVIEW
Guys and
Dolls
Power Center
March 29, 1996
Like any good basketball team, a
musical's bench needs depth as well.
When your supporting roles perform as
well as your stars, you have a hit.
Throughout the show I found myself
looking for Nicely Nicely Johnson,
played by Tad Emptage, to come back
on stage. From the opening of the show
until "Sit Down You're Rockin' the
Boat," Emptage synthesized his acting
with singing to produce a phenomenal
gangsta from New Yawk.

While not every ensemble member's
barrel turns and leaps were engaging,,
both Jim Daly and Mary Archbold
(Benny Southstreet and Big Julie) ex-
ecuted the "Crap Shooter's Dance,"-
impressively choreographed by Emma
Cotter, with style and a level of talent
found in professional theaters. Also,
Daly gave the audience a treat with a
hint of his Amazin' Blue background
during the melodic a cappella ending of
"The Oldest Established."
Unfortunately, I wasn't sure if the
Hot Box dancers were less than star
quality because Adelaide's nightclub
was a dump, or because the choreogra-
phy and timing were off. Their smiles
were huge, though, and it took a certain
level of professionalism to go along
with costume designer Lisa Renee
Jordan's low-necked, high-cut leotards
in "Take Back Your Mink."
With every accent accentuated and
every song sung sublimely, MUSKET's
performance of "Guys and Dolls" was a
pleasure to watch. The cast definitely
rocked the proverbial boat this weekend
at the Power Center. Yet they shouldn't
"sit down." Stand up and take a bow.

concerts and other fine arts events
for the Daily Arts section?
If so, just call Ted at 763-0379.

.'.

Do you want to write
previews and reviews of

search. But when
she, Mel, Nancy and
the child all arrive at what they believe
is his mother's home, Tina finds that
her camera is dirty; she puts the camera
in front of her crotch and says, "Use my
skirt. I don't care about it - it's old."
We love seeing Stiller trying to handle
the situation. We laugh because, de-
pite the stone-solid look on his face,

At Showcase

clock chiming away. All the mounting
craziness sets us up. We get hints that
the film will go hog-wild at some point,
and we anticipate the locomotive-like
charge.
When Russell gives us the shot of an
Addams Family house (each window
radiates with a different psychedelic

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SATURDAY, April 6, 1996
Registration - Refreshments in Kellogg Auditorium
OPENING SESSION - Kellogg Auditorium
Dr. Jed J. Jacobson, Director of Admissions, School of Dentistry
"Dentistry Today and Tomorrow"
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