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November 17, 2005 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-17

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Writing Ann Arbor: A Literary Anthology
Edited by Laurence Goldstein
Courtesy of The University of Michigan Press, Copyright 2005

In Ann Arbor's 181-year history, the city has
inspired a number of essays, poems and short
stories. The city, and later the University, has
inspired a broad range of writers - from world-
renowned author Robert Frost to countless local
authors. In his anthology, Laurence Goldstein
attempts to collect the best and most interesting
works while intentionally avoiding the more well-
known authors and their pieces. - Chris Gaerig
The public history of a city can be writ-
ten by a single author, but its inner history
- the story of its cultural evolution, the
ever-unfinished portrait of its shape-shift-
ing identity - can only be written by a
composite author ...
That Ann Arbor is a realm apart from
reality makes perfect sense when one con-
siders the qualities of an intellectual cul-
ture. A world of ideas - of argument, or
spirited discourse, of new and subversive
formulations about everything - is indeed
a glass house through which the inhabit-
ants catch sight of a different world than
the one presented by conventional wisdom.
That is one function of a university. Liv-
ing in a privileged place, one can become
accustomed to thinking that the rest of the
world conforms to the shape of one's own
experience, rather like the old woman in
Nancy Willard's novel Sister Water who
thinks that everything she sees on televi-
sion is happening in Ann Arbor. For stu-

dents especially, the retraction of parental
monitoring creates an enchanted and lib-
erated space for powerful dreaming, for
radical new forms of self-definition and
community action ...
So 'reality' gets changed in the process
and not just by being put in ironizing quota-
tion marks. At a time when 70 percent of
all Americans attend some institution of
higher education, the surrounding world of
hard knocks and lifelong opportunities is
constantly reshaped by the ideas percolating
in the university and pouring into the world
outside the ivied walls. Surely the relation-
ship is a symbiotic one. When John F. Ken-
nedy visited Ann Arbor in 1960 to announce
his idea for a Peace Corps on the steps of the
Michigan Union, and when Lyndon Johnson
came four years later to propose the creation
of 'Great Society' during a commencement
address in the football stadium, the dreams
of an older establishment mingled with the
radical ideas fostered on campus to -gener-
ate an innovative and potent sea change in
the cultural life of this nation and the world
beyond ...
But there is more to being human then
being intellectual. It would be a gross dis-
tortion of the literary record if an editor
filled his anthology with writings about
ideas, all-important as they are. It's fair to
say that the majority of writings about the
university, from first to last, focus on two
other aspects of the academic condition:
sports and recreational social life. There is

no overestimating the passion of football,
especially, in Ann Arbor, around the state
of Michigan and in the hearts of alumni
throughout the world. Football appears as
a leitmotif in this anthology, first appear-
ing in the nineteenth century-(though it's
interesting to note in a novel of 1899 that
baseball had more respect on campus) and
carrying forward into the fiction of Charles
Baxter and Elwood Reid and the poetry of
Donald Hall ...
And then there are the infinitely complex
social relations, on and off campus, under-
taken by young people spending four or
more years of their lives in the privileged
space of an academic milieu. I have cho-
sen brief samples of fiction from the nine-
teenth century to demonstrate the earlier
forms of what might be called affiliations,
be they same-sex (fraternities, sororities,
dormitories) or, more often, mixed-gender
dynamics (dances, courtship, professional
rivalries) ...
Some writers nostalgically depict Ann
Arbor as a sort of utopian open society, a
crucible of soul making that prepares the
individual to withstand the pressures of the
outer world. This view of the educational
experience nourishes the iconography of
the ivory tower. Other writers who revisit
Ann Arbor in their memoirs see the matter
with more complexity. Ann Arbor, in this
view, is part and parcel of the everyday con-
flicts of the rest of the world, and what is
most happily remembered is the vehemence

AOS) (dq

with which the creative spirit struggled
- in classrooms, in dorm rooms, in frater-
nity lounges, in the offices of the Michigan
Daily or the Union or the Administration
Building - against the temptation toward
passivity and indifference ...
Someday every remarkable place in the
world will have its own anthology. Now it is
Ann Arbor's turn - and the present offer-
ing is only the beginning."

The Weekend List

Friday

11.18.05

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ComCo
The University improv group will present a
variety of sketch comedy routines in their per-
formance titled "WTF Happened to TGIF?"
The performances will take place tomorrow
and Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the U-Club
in the Michigan Union. $2 at the door.
The Laramie Project
The Laramie Project: The Department of
Theatre and Drama will present this play
about hate crimes in a small town. The per-
formances will take place tomorrow and
Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at
the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Tickets are
$22 and $16 ($9 with a student ID) and can
be purchased at the Michigan League Tick-

et Office or online through www.music.
umich.edu.
Harmonettes
The all-female a cappella group's concert
will also feature a performance by the dance
troupe Groove. The performance will take
place at 8 p.m. at the Pendleton Room at the
Michigan Union. Tickets at the door are $6
for students and $8 for adults.
Pippin
MUSKET, the university's student-run
musical theatre group, will present this play
about King Charlemagne's son adjusting
to new responsibilities and learning about
himself. The performance will take place
tomorrow and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sun-
day at 2 p.m. at the Power Center. Tickets
are $7 for students and $13 for all others

and can be purchased at the Michigan Union
Ticket Office.

Saturday

11.19,05

the door or by calling (734) 764-1448.
Nomo
The 17-member band will perform their
unique brand of percussion-heavy dance
music. The concert will take place at the
Blind Pig. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. $8 cover.
$10 cover for under 21. 18 and over only.

Concertante
The chamber-music group will perform
works from Strauss and Brahms. The per-
formance will take place at 8 p.m. at Rack-
ham Auditorium. Tickets are $18 to $36 and
can be purchased at MUTO.
Men's Glee Club Concert
One of the nation's oldest men's glee clubs
will present their 146th annual concert. The
performance will take place at 8 p.m. at Hill
Auditorium. Tickets are $10 and $15 ($5
with a student ID) and can be purchased at

Sunday

11.20.05

$1F t~ a. g 't,1l } tiL i ... tjlhgq s { t qJ~)lI ir f lq a t ftv

. 6ei.

Pool Tournament
Eight-ball is the game of choice for this
monthly students-only billiards event. The
tournament will begin at 1:45 p.m. in the
Billiards Room at the Michigan Union. The
cost is $5 to pre-register or $10 the weekend
of the tournament.

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4B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 17, 2005

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