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September 19, 1996 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-19

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6B - The Michigan Daily Weekend Magazine -Thursdayeptemr e9, 1996

v

v

9JI

9

The Michigan Dal eekenrd Mag

'U' Prof. Delbanco and NPR's
Cheuse to read at the Drum

'State of the Arts
INDEPENDENCE DAY' CASHES IN ON AMERICA
AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WORLD

By Dean Bakopoulos
Daily Books Editor
Any serious reader of literature
instinctively wants to know just how
the writer pulls it off. Any audience at
a literary event will eventually ask the
writer about his or her work habits.
Many of the very best writers say little
about their actual toil; rather, they
focus on product. Bernard Malamud
had one of the most prolific fiction
careers in this half-century, yet he said
and wrote very little about the long
hours he spent creating
his works. That is a
shame, because the late
Malamud worked as=
passionately, diligently
and seriously as any
modern fiction writer.
That's why it's a joy to
read "Talking Horse:
Bernard Malamud on
Life and Work"
(Columbia University
Press, 1996), a collec-
tion of both previously Bernard Malai
published and unpub-
lished essays, lectures and notes from
Malamud's personal papers. The collec-
tion is edited and introduced by
Nicholas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse,
two of Malamud's colleagues from his
days on the writing faculty at
Bennington College in Vermont. If
those names sound familiar, they

should. Cheuse is National Public
Radio's longtime book commentator
and Delbanco is the director of the
University's MFA in Writing Program
and the Hopwood Awards Program.
(Incidentally, Malamud's last public
appearance was the 1986 Hopwood
Awards address.)
For Delbanco, sorting through his
dear friend's leavings was more of a
joy than a project. "Since he was so
close a friend and so much a mentor,
the act of scholarship became a kind
of homage - an act of
preservation of his mem-
ory as well as work,"
Delbanco said. "For the
four years Alan Cheuse
and I spent on the pro-
ject, it was as though
Malamud's voice still
sounded resoundingly in
our ears, and to read his
notes from the 1960s
and 1970s was, as it
were, to sense him still
)ANNA MALAMUD alive."

Alan Cheuse (left) and Nicholas Delbanco

FRANCESCA DELBANCO

AFRICAN FORM AND IMAGERY
DETROIT COLLECTS
A lecture by
Dr. Nii Quarcoopome
Saturday, September 21, 2 p.m.
In conjunction with African Form
and Imagery: Detroit Collects, on view
at the Detroit Institute of Arts through
January 5, 1997, Dr. Nii Quarcoopome,
assistant professor, Department of the
History of Art and the Center for
Afro-American and African Studies,
University of Michigan, discusses
works of art in the exhibition.
Free with museurs admission:
recommended $4 adults, $1 children, members free.
Museum hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.--Sat.; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. & Sun.
Co-sponsored by the Friends of African and African-American Art
and thie DIA Founders Sociey,
Programs are made possible with support from the Michigan
Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. The DIA is an equal , ;ub "
opportunity presenter and employer.
THE DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS
5200 Woodward Avenue * Detroit, Michigan 48202 " (313) 833-7900
44 14..' ., .+ 7e o .a '" U R . +a ' e oa t xa

,....

nmul

Malamud won a slew

of awards in his career. Most notably,
he was a double-winner of the National
Book Award and also won the Pulitzer
Prize. Among his most famous novels
are "The Fixer" (1966), "The
Assistant" (1957), "Dubin's Lives"
(1979) and "The Natural" (1952), the
latter of which was made into a movie
that starred Robert Redford and had a
greatly altered, fairy tale ending.
Malamud also ranks among the few
writers who've managed to place short
story collections on the best-seller list.
"Talking Horse" features everything
from the introduction to his "Collected
Stories" (1983) to an acceptance
address at the 1977 Jewish Heritage
Award ceremonies.
Despite this prolific career,
Delbanco said that Malamud was
always a true friend and teacher. "He
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Nicholas Delbanco
and Alan Cheuse
~ What: A reading from "Talking
Horse: Bernard Malamud on Life and
Work" Columbia University Press.
1996.
~ Where: Shaman Drum
~ When: Friday, 8 p.m.
~ Admisslon: Free.
was unstinting in his friendship and
generosity, and our act of editorial
compilation was intended as a form of
reciprocity: (Delbanco and Cheuse)
owed him that much at least. I have no
doubt that his stories - what he called
his 'sad and comic tales' - will stand
the test of time.
Aside from lifelong Malamud fans,
"Talking Horse" will perhaps have the
most appeal for those young writers
struggling to do what Malamud had
done - write good fiction. The collect-
ed essays shed a lot of insight into the
development of the great writer who
passed away a decade ago.
"One day I began to write seriously:
my writing had begun to impress me,"
Malmud writes in the introduction to
his story collection. But that begin-
ning spark did not burst into a suc-
cessful flame overnight. Malamud
details his early writing years in the
essay, "Long Work, Short Life." In
this section, the young writer will find
a bit of light shed on the dark, abstract
corners that cloud one's drive with
doubt.
For instance, Malamud on marriage
and young writers: "I sometimes felt
that young writers I knew were too
concerned with staying out of mar-
riage, whereas they might have used it,
among other things, to order their lives
and get on with their work."
Or, Malamud on the cold world of the
marketplace: "Not everyone can make
a first-rate living as a writer, but a
writer who is serious and responsible
about his work, and life, will probably
find a way to earn a decent living, if he
or she writes well"
Malamud also demonstrates a very
emotional attachment to his labor.
The following words echo an experi-
ence common to so many discour-
aged, but driven young writers (or, at
least this one): "One night after labor-
ing in vain for hours attempting to
bring a short story to life, I sat up in
bed at an open window looking at the
stars after a rainfall. Then I experi-
enced a wave of feeling, of heartfelt
emotion bespeaking commitment to
life and art, so deeply it brought tears
to my eyes. For the hundredth time I
promised myself that I would some-
day be a very good writer."
Yes. That's the feeling one gets, isn't
it?
In all the essays on craft, Malamud
See MALAMUD, Page 14B

Last week,
rumor has it,
Spain's very first
coming attrac-
tions for the
buster-phenome-
non "Indepen-
dence Day" were
met with a minor
Joshua Rich panic. It turns out
that some twisted
publicity person
had made the familiar trailer showing a
fleet of swollen spaceships into a stunt
likely designed to gain the reaction it
ultimately received. Clever.
Orson Welles just rolled in his grave.
After all, the only touch of genius in
"Independence Day" is the fact that its
distributors managed to pack so many
theaters for so long.
In its first week alone, the film broke
the gross sales record for a movie open-
ing by selling about $100Smillion worth
of tickets. It is destined to reach the
impressive $300 million domestic earn-
ings mark later this year.
I'll admit: I am guilty of filling
"Independence Day"'s producer's pock-
ets. I fell into 20th Century Fox's mouse-
trap. I ate up "Independence Day"'s
catchy trailers all summer. I was in line
early that first week in July when every-
one imagined the film would be like the
second coming of "Star Wars," and the
giant-screen theater near my house was
showing it 24 hours a day. I plopped
down my $7.50 and got a prime seat in
the balcony, waiting in nervous anticipa-
tion with the rest of the audience. I want-
ed to see magic. I wanted to be amazed.
But I was ripped off.
The utter treachery behind
"Independence Day" lies in its manipu-
lative conception. No question audi-
ences have been endlessly drawn to the-
aters to see this film that, supposedly, is
about a hostile alien invasion of the
Earth and the retaliation of the planet's
few remaining souls. And that's what
we think we saw. Fair enough. Let's go
see it again - it's sooo entertaining!
I don't think so. The age-old trap
involved in this sort of movie is to for-
get that there are other countries in the
world. Sure, "Independence Day"'s

the Great Wall of
China and the
Kremlin been the
structures left in
shambles, we
would not have
thirsted for
revenge.
Of course,
"Independence
Day" is a fantasy
film; it is definitely
not based in fact.
And for that reason
I'll accept the
film's ridiculous
notion that there is
a top secret air
force base in the

aliens arrive, but they only seem to
threaten the United States (as the rest of
the world waits, whimpering in the cor-
ner). Come on: If aliens were to land on
the Earth with the simple intention of
killing everyone, wouldn't you think
that they'd arrive in more heavily popu-
lated areas in China or India before they
hit Los Angeles?
Not in this case. The scenes of aliens
destroying the Empire State Building
and the White House are shown to pro-
voke our anger. Damn the visitors, they
bombed New York and Washington
(which, ironically, received a pretty big
cheer in the D.C. theater where I saw
the film)! Let's fight back. Fact is: Had

It is not just incidental that this all
occurs as it does. Deep down we are led
to feel that the Americans win because
they are Americans. Will Smith can sur-
vive combat with the aliens because he
is a tough-as-nails American fighter
pilot which, for that reason, makes him
an invincible badass. The world attacks
back against its invaders and it is suc-
cessful because the battle was fought on
July 4, the American day of indepen-
dence.
Since we are so set on thinking that
being American is good, that American
values are good, that Americans are the
smartest and most heroic people in the
world, we ignore the offensive notions
that lie at the heart
are so of "Independence
Day." We are
tricked into think-
ing we saw a bet-
ter, deeper movie
than we did.
is g od, Citizens in
other countries
the spend more
money on our
notions movies than we
do. They will
the"spend much more
money on this
Ind& film than we did.

sinCe We e
set on thin
that being
American
we ignore
offensive
that lie at
heart of II

MAZE
Continued from Page 7B
contain map pieces and qu
about cancer and cars,'a.k.a
knowledge.
Those who are more e
fused need not worry. If
help making your way t
maze, a maze master can
masters sit in 25-foot to
looking the maze and kee
individual maze-goers, raz
people over the microphoi
ing clues to the completely
via tele-stalks, long tube:
nect from four field locat
tower.
Oh, and don't think yot
out at every turn and just
for help. You have to beg,"
one, give me a clue, and v
a limerick in response.
Marty O'Sullivan servec
master on several occasioi
mer MSU student faced so
opposition as he tried to gi
ple guidance through the
one rhyme: "Walk towards
the red, and under the brid
head, to the right, to the r
right."
"They called me a dirty
and walked away,"O'Sulliv
a laugh.
Michael Shmarak, a sp
for Marx Layne, the publ
firm representing the maz
people from all political a
walks of life and econoi
have come to the maze.
"Families who can't spen
golf outing come to give si
incredible cause," he said,
others come out of shee
"There are some people wh
seen corn before."
Carol Lechtzin of West
said she was awed as
through the maze, as she ha
corn growing up close.
"As a city person, I was
ested in looking at hove
grows;" Lechtzin said. "I w
at how tall it was."
Still others wanted
Stanton said she encounte

pendence

desert that houses aliens and other things
so secure that the president doesn't even
know about them. I'll accept the implausi-
ble conclusion to the film when the
humans send the aliens a diseased e-mail
from a Macintosh computer. I'll even
accept that while most everyone in the
country is killed in the aliens' initial blast,
all the central characters in the film sur-
vive and manage to convene in the desert
out west. Sure, next time aliens land and
blow everyone up, I'm driving to Nevada!
What is not acceptable is that the
Americans run the show. The film takes
place on or around the fourth of July,
the leaders of the world's assault against
the spaceships are a handful of
American military and political types,
the heroes of the battle are Americans
and Americans are the ones who figure
out how to win.

So I am embar-
rassed to think
that a Canadian -
let alone someone from Africa or Asia
- would watch this film that is like an
over hyped, dramatized version of "The
Star-Spangled Banner."
The frightened Spaniards may have
had a good reason for their madness
after all. "Independence Day" is after
them. "Independence Day" only cares
about their wallets. And it rampages
with greater vengeance than one of
those Pamplona bulls.
- Joshua Rich is an LSA junior
He can be contacted over e-mail at
jmrich@umich.edu.

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