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September 16, 1998 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-16

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 16, 1998 -

* Purdy's 'Gertrude'
finds and loses love

'Lt's talk about' low-quali films

Gertrude of Stony
Island Avenue
James Purdy
William Morrow
It is a story of love, and a
story that lacks love. It is a story
of living, and a story of those
who have never truly lived. In
his latest novel, "Gertrude of
Stony Island Avenue," James
Purdy explores what it means to
lose a love and the feeling of-
never having loved at all.
James Purdy is a prolific
writer who, until this novel, has
been more highly recognized in
foreign countries than his own.
"Gertrude" finally brings Purdy
into the loop of respected
American authors.
The main character of Purdy's
newest novel is also the narrator.
Carrie, a woman perhaps in her
sixties, lives with her husband,
Vic. Throughout the course of
the novel, Carrie
must learn to-
cope with ther
loss of her only
d~~ atug -=e; ,
daughter,
Gertrude. Carriev
desperately tries to>
accept that she never
truly loved her daughter,
and her daughter never
loved her. As a result of her
inability to cope with reality,
Carrie constantly blames others
for the lack of love that existed
between her daughter and her-
self.
In this novel Carrie goes on a
long journey of self discovery.
Her journey proves successful
and Carrie eventually allows
herself to understand Gertrude
and let go of her death. Only
now, after an entire lifetime, can
Carrie begin to live without
existing in the shadow of her
husband or her daughter.
Purdy's ability to dictate fic-
tion in such a bitterly honest
manner leaves the reader with
the feeling that they once knew
the characters of his book. The
reader's heart aches at the real-
ization that there are Carries
and Gertrudes that exist in the
thousands, mother and daugh-
ters who cannot love each other.
Purdy's style is simple and
honest. Without being verbose
or condescending, his style
embraces a sophistication not
characteristic of a novel that
flows so easily. Though not
written in the stream of con-
sciousness, Purdy's characters
are so whole and real that the

reader can understand what
makes them tick, can know what
they are thinking without being
told.
Even more thrilling than
Purdy's unique style of writing
is his comprehensive under-
standing of the enigma of a
woman. His narrator, Carrie,
exists almost as a real life
woman. Her neuroses, her jeal-
ousies, her need to be ftce arc so
honest and universal, yet seem
to be emotions of womanhood
that only a woman can under-
stand. Purdy proves that it is
possible for man to understand
woman, for his depiction of
Carrie could not have been more
real had it been written by a
woman herself.
Through his dialogue, Purdy
reveals the inner workings of his
characters. Carrie who address-
es her husband Vic as Daddy,
appears at first to be a child.
What is so rare is that though
the reader knows the main
characters are older since
they have been mar-
ried for more than
forty years, their
naivete and lack on
knowledge about
the world and
themselv s keep
raising the qus-
tion of their ages.
Purdy purposely never mentions
their age, and the reader is often
left picturing a young couple
stumbling through life.
By creating older characters
who at times seem so childlike,
Purdy leaves room for readers
of all ages to embrace his char-
acters. The reader, like Carrie,
goes on a journey of self-dis-
covery. Near the end of the
novel, Carrie says, "I had never,
like the other people, lived. And
being such a woman I had failed
my only child, Gertrude. But
more importantly I had failed
myself." Such shows the final
strength Carrie gains, and the
honesty and selfishness that are
life.
"Gertrude of Stony Island
Avenue" is a novel that all
should read. Men and women
alike, spanning all cultures and
regions can gain so much from
reading this novel, they can gain
a life. Both young and old will
realize that it is never too late to
gain closure on something forc-
ing one to cling to the past.
Only when one is able to live in
the moment, can one truly begin
to live.
-Corinne Schneider

By Joainne Alnijar
'._lx Arts W ritr
O.K., let's face it: sometimes men
can he a little unbearable (to say the
leasi Often after a Mr. Right walks
out the door forever, there is an inti-
imate honding that occurs between
women regarding why Mr. Right -
like many other men -- turned out to
be Mr. Wrong. Along with this bond-
ing comes some necessary male
bashing, tears and ice cream.
Based on this premise, Troy
[Beyer's "Let's Talk About Sex,"
exposes an audience to three
extremely shallow women who lead
soap opera lives filled with choppy
story lines and bad music.
Jazz (Troy Beyer), Michelle (Paget
Blrewester) and Lena (Randi
Ingerman) are three women living
together in Miami, looking to find
love. Jazz is an overly ambitious
advice columnist who wants to start
her own talk show. When hr poten-
tially interested producer .suggests
that she make a video tape demon-
stration of her idea, Jazz teams up
with her two roommates to interview
women all across Miami about "mat-
ing and dating in the '90s."
While making the documentary,
Jaz is trying to land her former
fiancee; Michelle is using and abus-
ing men; and Lena is in a w;ham-
bam-thank-you-ma'am relationship.
Sounds relatively simple, right? s
Wrong. This simple story goes
astray because Beyer (as writer and
first-time director) fails to give these
wsomen any sort of depth. As a result,
the audience is emotionally isolated

Courtesy o of F rn Figwes

Randi ingerman, Troy Beyer, and Paget Brewster star In "Let's Talk About Sex."

Let's Talk
About ;Sex
*
At Showcase

from the shj-
low characters'
lives and cannot
cry with them
when they are
mourning men
that have come
and gone, , as
well as other
problems they
must confront.
Additionally,
problems are
invented along
the way without
any foreshadow-

Instead, the movie turns into a
soap opera full of cheesy emotional
breakdowns and acting fit for
Melrose Place. For example, in the
middle of the movie, Michelle is
suddenly confronting her unaffec-
tionate mother about their own rela-
tionship while the audience has
never even heard about any issues of
that nature.
Later, the audience is subjected to
another of Michelle's breakdowns
regarding her fear of intimacy. These
are all surprises to the audience since
there is literally no consistent story
line or sincere character to grasp
onto.
Interspersed between the trials of
these shallow characters, flashy doc-
umentary footage of random women
discussing issues such as their likes
and dislikes of men, faking orgasms
and bad pick-up lines flaunt the
screen.
But most explicitly of all, the
women are asked to demonstrate
preferred sexual tactics for the cam-

era. "Let's Talk About Sex" becomes
eye candy for those interested in
women humping chairs and oh-so-
nonchalantly masturbating in front
of the camera. Before horny males
(and females) jump at the opportuni-
ty, let them not be so excited, know-
ing that after this scene, of the five
people in the theater on opening
night, two of them walked out.
Meyer, who also wrote the film
"B.A.P.S." that starred Halle Berry,
fails miserably at both exhibiting her
writing skills and directing a feature
film.
This is not to say that the actual
"Waiting to Exhale" wannabe con-
cept of the movie wasn't good, but
more creativity in plot formation
and character development could

have made the movie a better emo-
tional exploration into what women
want from men, sparing the audience
an extra-long episode of Melrose
Place.
Although more you-go-girl scenes
would have given the characters
strength to deal with their own relaL
tionships, the acting is still there to
play the anchor of an already sinking
ship.
"Let's Talk About Sex" does not
function effectively because of iti
choppy plot strung together by hack-
neyed characters that' cannot act.
Instead of spending seven dollars on
seeing this horrible excuse for a
movie, stay home with your bost
friends and have a bonding session
of your own.

ing or solid foundation. This pro-
duces a choppy story line that can't
possibly involve the audience
because is isn't built up throughout
the movie.

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