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September 13, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-13

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September 13, 2002



Ann Arbor
Blues and Jazz
Festival begins

Adam Haslett's 'You Are Not a
Stranger Here' is heartwarming

By Jim Schiff
Daily Arts Writer

Grief," for example, a teenage boy falls in love with a
bully who repeatedly beats him. One might find it
hard to identify with such an individual, but Haslett
shows, in several stories, that human behavior is often
inexplicable and illogical.

By Scott Serilla
Daily Music Editor

Looking for a chance to awk-
wardly bump into your professors
outside of the traditional classroom
setting? Oh man have we got an
event for you.
The annual Blues and Jazz Festi-
val will descend on Ann Arbor all
this weekend, once again featuring
a diverse assortment of acts playing
at venues throughout the city. To
mark the festival's 30th anniversary
promoters have assembled national-
ly known artists from the worlds of
blues, latin/salsa, fusion-funk, New
Orleans, be-bop and free jazz.
The festivities kick off tonight at
the Michigan Theater on East Lib-
erty Street where Grammy Award
winning pianist and bandleader
Eddie Palmieri, known as 'The Sun

of Latin Jazz,'
will take the y
stage with his
li-piece La'
Perfecta II
O~~~~ r <: tra.
Local act Los
Gato will open.
Showtime is at
8 and tickets z
cost anywhere
between $25-
$40. Later that
evening funky
multi-instru- Ms. Koko Taylor and'
mentalist Olu
Dara will play two sets at the Bird
of Paradise Jazz Club on South
Main, with tickets running $25 for
both the 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. sets.
Saturday at noon the party heads
outdoors at Gallup Park on Fuller
near Huron Parkway. Music will
begin at 1 p.m.,
with performances
all day long from
the likes of local
sax/flute master
Paul Vornhagen,
Detroit Blues
queen Alberta
Adams, New
Orleans' Dirty
Dozen Brass
Band and capped
off by Ms. Koko
Taylor and Her
Blues Machine.
Local vendors,
enjoying an off
weekend at the
Big House slide
over to Gallup as
well to provide
food for the hun-
gry masses.
Then the whole
shebang just starts
Courtesy of Jam-USA all over Sunday at
dise noon back at the

Courtesy of Jam USA
Her Blues Machine are coming to town.
park this time with local favorites
(we're not making this up) Al Hill
and the Love Butlers and The Dob-
bins/Chandler Quintet opening for
Cajun man Tab Benoit and the late
and strange Sun Ra's enduring
Arskestra carrying on the leader's
otherworldly music just as he per-
formed it at the original festival 30
years ago. The festival will close
that evening with a performance
by Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.
Saxophonist and bandleader Den-
son is know for his crossover col-
laborations with the likes of jam
band mainstays String Cheese
Incident and Ms. Lisa Bonet him-
self, Lenny Kravitz.
Tickets for each day at Gallup
Park are $20 advance and $25 at
the gate (students save $5 either
way with student ID). Two day
passes as well as complete festival
package deals are also available.
Tickets can be purchased at all
Ticketmaster locations and Gallup
Park tickets are also available at
both the Arborland, Borders and at
P.J.'s Used Records and CDs (no
service charge).
For more information visit the Ann
Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival website:

"Chicken Soup for the Soul" has just about run its
course. You can only go back for more helpings so
many times. Thankfully, Adam Haslett
has concocted a stew so heartwarming in
"You Are Not a Stranger Here" that
you'll want another bowl.
An impressive debut to say the least, YOU AR
Haslett's collection of short stories STRANG
breathes life into a genre that seldom
gets attention. By Adan
Some readers fear that with a short Doubled
story, they don't have enough time to get
attached to the characters. This is not the
case with "Stranger:" its vivid and satisfying stories
need not go beyond 30 pages. Haslett's figures are
universal - troubled, lonely and above all, longing for
human affection.
That being said, "Stranger" is not a happy read; but
it is an uplifting one. Most of Haslett's principal char-
acters suffer from a mental illness, whether it be
schizophrenia, depression, or post-traumatic stress
disorder. But instead of stereotyping their behavior,
Haslett gets inside their heads and shows their suffer-
ing through lucid, lyrical prose.
In one story, "Notes to my Biographer," we read of a
brilliant but mentally unstable inventor who makes a
final visit to his gay son. Though we know he loves
his son, he is unable to express this in words. Instead,
he rambles on about technological breakthroughs in
stream-of-consciousness; even when he sees tears on
his son's face, his illness prevents him from respond-
ing appropriately.
The sad undercurrent of Haslett's tales, like this
first one, only strengthens their impact. "Stranger"
truly shines in its depiction of tragic characters that
overcome their disability. Consider the collection's
most heart-wrenching tale, "War's End." Paul, a for-
mer high school history teacher, suffers from severe
depression - so severe that he can't connect with his
wife on even the most basic level. His inability to
touch another life is changed when he meets a dying
young boy; Paul reads him stories of kings and castles.
While Paul and the boy suffer - one mentally, the
other physically - a simple thing like reading lifts
both their spirits.
In this way, "Stranger" is comparable to the "Chick-
en Soup" series. But unlike the latter, Haslett doesn't
guarantee a remedy to your woes. His stories are dark
and sometimes too "out there" for the unadventurous
reader to comprehend. Occasionally he creates charac-
ters that seem inconceivable. In "The Beginnings of

[m Haslett
day Books

From a purely technical standpoint,
Haslett never misses a step. Journeying
from Scotland, to Los Angeles to New
England, he nails dialects and local cus-
toms with spot-on precision. The author
also narrates from the viewpoint of the
mentally-disabled, forcing him to use
vocabulary and phrasing that characterize
a particular illness.
Clearly, Haslett throws himself a chal-
lenge with this collection. "You are Not a

Stranger Here" not only introduces him as a strong lit-
erary voice, but also a brave one. His characters are
complex and compassionate, as only an author of
Haslett's caliber could create. Not bad for the first
time at bat.

Olu Dara will be performing at Bird of Parad


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