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April 14, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-14

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 14, 1997

Mistry to read 'Fine' at Borders

Ice Cube Is in serious danger In this scene from the stupid and unconvincing "Anaconda."

By Elizabeth Lucas
Daily Books Editor
Imagine that you are a publisher
studying a new manuscript. It's 600
pages long and strives to be simultane-
ously minimalist and vast, describing
people's inner lives as adeptly as it
describes Indian governmental policy.
And it's not written
by a trained writer,P
but by a math P1
major. Rof
At first glance, it
might not sound
promising. But for-
tunately for the
reading public, Rohinton Mistry's pub-
lisher did not turn down this manu-
script. As unexpected as it seems, the
resulting novel has become a literary
and popular success.
"A Fine Balance" powerfully drama-
tizes how public events affect individual
lives. It follows four characters in 1975
Bombay - a widow, the student who
boards with her and the two tailors who
work for her. Though all four initially
have mixed feelings about each other,
they slowly come to depend on each
other and become a sort of family.
This gradual transition is not the only
surprise in "A Fine Balance." The book
would be a remarkable achievement by
any writer - but it seems even more so,
considering that it's only Mistry's third
work of fiction.
Mistry, an Indian-born writer who
moved to Canada in 1975, hadn't origi-
nally planned to be a writer, instead
studying math and economics.
"I grew up in Bombay, and in that
time and place, literature and books
were not something one could convert
into a career," Mistry said. "Kids were
always encouraged, in school and col-
lege, to study useful things."
Mistry said that he became interested
in writing while studying at the
University of Toronto. He entered a
short story in a competition and it won


first prize. Since then, Mistry has writ-
ten a book of short stories, "Swimming
Lessons," and another novel, "Such a
Long Journey."
"A Fine Balance'" Mistry's second
novel, was inspired by the 1975 State of
Emergency in India. "I -wanted to write
a novel set in that time period," Mistry
said. "I wanted to
I Wwrite about the
E V I E characters' daily
Mton Mistry lives, their mun-
Tonight at 7:30 dane lives - but in
Borders that time period
Free there were special
challenges they
This might be an understatement.
Mistry's four central characters are
brought face-to-face with poverty,
caste violence, religious persecution
and the abuse of governmental power,
in some difficult-to-read segments of
the book.
But this historical and psychologi-
cal realism is the book's most striking
feature. For example, the first 250

writing. This is a recipe for a good liter-
ary novel, but not necessarily for a pop-
ular book. However, the novel -has
appealed to a broad base of readers.
Mistry said that he hadn't originally
had a specific audience in mind, but
had gotten appreciative fan mail from a
variety of people. "I hope that everyone
will like it - that's the reaction 9'
really grateful for. Every reader is going
to find something special in it"Mistry
The novel has also been well-
received by critics; it won the Los
Angeles Times Book Prize in fiction,
among other literary accolades. It was
also shortlisted for England's Booker
Prize, bringing Mistry into an
acclaimed group of authors -
Margaret Atwood was another finali
and Graham Swift was awarded t
The book's critical success, too, sur-
prised Mistry. "Literary prizes are a
very subjective process - it's not like
running the hundred meters. When you
get to a shortlist, that in itself is a
Mistry was
Is both fervent and
reader -1S pragmatic
asked wha
rid advice he would
~, pe ia give to young
p. writers. He
advised, "Start
writing and stop
ohinton Mistry thinking about
Fine Balance" it. Just begin.
Just tell your
stories." Then he
paused and added, "But don't expe
to make a living from it. Have a dW
Would-be writers might want to con-
sider this advice, as it appears to have
worked for Mistry. Without a creative
writing degree and with a decidedly un-
literary day job, he still produced the
artistry and depth of "A Fine Balance."

'Anaconda' slithers i*n stupidity

By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
The suspenseful music grows more
ominous as the frightened on-screen
characters get gruesomely picked off
one-by-one by a monstrous man-eating
snake. As the movie's images become
more violent, and
the snake continues R
to satiate its gory
appetite, audience
members are soon
sent screaming out
of the theater ... At B
haunted by
"Anaconda's" horrifying , sheer stupid-
"Anaconda" is about a big snake in
the Amazon that eats people. And that
basically sums up the movie. Why the
makers of this film thought it would be
a good idea to make an entire film from
this weak premise is a good question.
Why they thought that the public would
want to see the finished product is an
even better one.
The epitome of a bad action/horror
flick, "Anaconda" stars a group of
actors who should be ashamed of them-
selves. Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, and
Eric Stoltz play filmmakers who set out
on the Amazon River to shoot a docu-
mentary. When they pick up a stranded
man named Paul Sarone (John Voight),
who turns out to be a snake trapper
from Paraguay, they are led into a suici-
dal hunt for the dangerous and valuable


Speaking of suicidal, the movie does
quite a good job at running itself into a
deep grave. The movie starts out on a
silly foot, with various characters delib-
erately, yet subtly foreshadowing, the
fact that the group may encounter trou-
®_ble from the many
EV I E Wdangers out on the
river. No kidding,
Anaconda you'll think. Would
one of them hap-
pen to be a great,
arwood and Showcase big snake?
Later, as the
group battles bad acting and cheesy
lines on the Amazon, the fake-looking
snake is tearing up fake-looking ani-
mals all along the river. But by the time
the snake and the people finally meet,
the characters have become so dull that
the audience will sincerely hope they
get eaten.
The scenes of the snake violently
devouring people head first are incredi-
bly blah, due to the fact that the special
effects look about as real as Michael
Jackson's nose. The snake appears
either obviously computer-generated
and ridiculous, or like a big lump of
rubber being held by some film crew
members. Nothing about "Anaconda"
even whispers quality.
For the rest of the movie, as the char-
acters fight for their lives against the
snake and Sarone, the audience is wait-
ing to see the anaconda regurgitate

someone - a practice of these snakes
that an explanation at the beginning of
the film details. But when the scene
finally comes, you're hit with the real-
ization that this movie is not only silly,
stupid and pointless, but disgusting as
Director Luis Llosa ("The
Specialist") will have trouble finding
work as long as people remember what
he did with this movie. He obviously
put a lot of care and serious considera-
tion into making this action flick, but
everything about it is done so horribly
that it becomes almost a comedy. The
scenes that are meant to build suspense
fall flat, while the bad special effects,
stupid lines and melodramatic sound-
track cause viewers to laugh in sympa-
thy. In fact, if Llosa has an affinity for
angora sweaters, then I believe we have
the next Ed Wood on our hands.
The only mildly entertaining factor
about this movie would be Ice Cube,
who, dressed South Central-style,
seems out of place on the Amazon
River. But still, his sarcastic manner
and forever serious expression remind
us why we love this guy.
If I had known just how bad this film
would be, I would have rather gone and
seen that Power Rangers movie for a
second time instead. It makes me feel
stupid to know that I shelled out money
to see this piece of crap - but at least
I didn't shell out millions of dollars to
make it.

pages describe the characters' varied
which slows
down the plot Every
but gives the
characters depth going
and believability.
Though set in a ,
specific time and j -
place, the rela- U U
tionships -F
between Mistry's Author of '/
characters seem
universal and
almost archetypal.
As Mistry said, "I think (the charac-
ters) spring from imagination, but the
seeds do come from reality. They're
composites of things we experience and
encounter in the real world.'
"A Fine Balance" stands out in the
memory for this realism, for its histori-
cal scope and for its intense, detailed


Weird Aphex ofers real emotion

Aphex Twin
Richard D. James
Elektra Records
Richard James (Aphex Twin) is defi-
nitely a weird one. A couple of years ago,
he finished his set in New York by play-
ing a piece of sandpaper on his turntable
for 40 minutes. When he returned, most
everyone had left, and he proceeded to
entrance a few hanger-ons with his
"encore.'Is this an example of misunder-
stood genius or plain stupidity? Not sure.
But while there does exist a fine line
between avant-garde and cacophony,
Richard James continues to thrive as an
innovator and creator of ambient music.
James' latest release continues his
excursionto search for different electron-
ic sounds and samples that blend to cre-
ate a sublime atmosphere. The first track,
"4;' manages to set the tone by combin-'

ing a cheesy-sounding, Casio-synthe-
sized sound with trancey keyboards. The
effect works and not only contains a
melody but also proves to be an emotion-
al piece of music on James' part.
This 15-track album contains
absolute spacey tracks such as "Logan
Rock Witch," with its kazoo samples,
and it also captures a pop sensibility with
tracks such as "fingerbib," and "girl/boy
song." Starting off as some sort of theme
music for a morning cartoon, "finger-
bib"'s synthesized orchestral sounds and
analogue synthesizers then kick in to
create electronic music that everyone
could embrace, "Girl/boy song" may be
James' best track ever, as the hard tech-
no beats collide with that of harp and
glockenspiel sounds.
Throughout the whole album, there
exists a dichotomy of sorts. Whether it's
the contrast between analogue and syn-
thesized sounds or a massive orchestral
effect versus a simple electronic monoto-
ne, James has successfully created sounds

Currently Enrolled Students
9-.Faculty and Staff

Aphex Twin looks tough.
that can produce an emotional reacti
from the listener. Although the
sounds on this album are purely synthetic
and artificial, the emotive forces James
puts out cannot get more real.
- Philip Son

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