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November 08, 2007 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-08

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Thursday, November 8, 2007 - 3B

Support your
local literature

When I first started this
column, my editors
suggested I local-
ize it as much as possible. didn't
know if it would work - I figured
it wouldn't be long until I started
spouting purple prose and abstract
analogies on
how Gabriel
Garcia Mar-
quez's village
of Macondo '
was Ann
Arbor and
points of its
rise and fall
corresponded KIMBERLY
to administra- CHOU
tive goings-on,
or the 1960s barbershop depres-
But it'S not yet time to start wor-
rying about that nasty Caribbean
windstorm. Turns out that beyond
the Shaman Drum Bookshop poet-
ry events and reserve-shelf trea-
sures, our college town also serves
as inspirational literary backdrop.
I'm not just talking about short-
story collections from local writers
aboutcromps in the Arb, e-mailed to
indie publishers from Caf Ambro-
sia, however poignant they some-
times are. There are a number of
works of fiction set in Ann Arbor
that you might not know about but
can find with relative ease via local
bookshop sages and, surprisingly,
Wikipedia's "Culture inAnnArbor,
Michigan" page.
Perhaps most prominent on
public radar at the moment is "The
Feast of Love" by Charles Baxter, a
long-time head of the University's
Master of Fine Arts in Creative
Writing program. (The also excel-
lent Peter Ho Davies - who was
last year for his first novel, "The
Welsh Girl" - currently directs the
creative writing program. Hope-
fully he'll immortalize Ann Arbor
at some point, too.) "The Feast of
Love" revolves around many lives
and loves - and drama, lots of
it. Director Robert Benton's film
adaptation, starring an ensemble
cast led by Morgan Freeman and
Greg Kinnear, transfers the quiltcof
stories to a small town in Oregon,
but I believe it's still generating a
fair amount of "Ohmygod, no way.
Really? No way" responses from
fans who have bought the book
and realized Baxter's characters
are doing all that living and loving
in Treetown. Pick up a copy of the
2000 National Book Award finalist
and guess who and what inspired
its central coffee shop, Jitters, the
cafe's punk romantics or the mel-
ancholy philosophy professor.
Then there's the stuff that evokes
From page 1B
Mullen's program includes a
mandatory curriculum for medi-
cal students at the University of
Florida, where they access their
creative side through reflective
writing classes.
The members of AHA are suc-
cessfully integrating the arts into
health care every day. They work
constantly to maintain funding
through grants and donations.
Their success establishes arts pro-

the amazing, musty little corners
of campus - 20 years ago. Bharati
Mukherjee's "Jasmine" is perhaps
one of the most detailed and only
short stories I've read that paints
A as an equal parts hot-sweat sexy
academic wonderland. In it, the tit-
ular character moves from Detroit
to Ann Arbor after slippinginto the
United States from "Port-of-Spain,
by way of Canada ... in the back of
a gray van loaded with mattresses
and box springs." Jasmine finds
out that "Ann Arbor is a magic
word." Tired of housekeeping for
family friends, she takes that trip
down I-94 with her new friends to
the West Indian Student Associa-
tion fall bash and ends up staying
for good. There's a sleepover on a
couch in the Michigan Union and
an alluringyet predatory molecular
bio professor; it's a coming-of-age
story set in Ann Arbor that doesn't
read like the average college girl's
first semester, having great lines
like "This Ann Arbor, girl, they
don't just take you off the street. It
cost like hell."
Speaking of great lines, look no
further than Dean Bakopoulos's
"Please Don't Come Back from the
Moon," another coming-of-age
novel. "A newcomer's guide to Ann
Arbor" that's full of them. "Do not,
do fucking not... under any circum-
stances, fall in love with a woman
Taking it from
the streets
of A2
in Ann Arbor," advises a character
named Nick. "Do not wake up in
their sunny apartments the next
morning, in their messy rooms full
of books and black-and-white pho-
tography, in their warm narrow
beds that smell of beer and salt and
sweat, and say that you're in love.
You're not in love. You're an out-
sider ... She won't miss you."
New York, San Francisco and
London may be more popular
choices for scenic inspiration and
the backdrops for some of the best
stories ever told. But sometimes it's
nice, too, to see how someone else
elucidates where you're spending
these four years. A lot more people
will get a reference to Little Star
in the Mission District than Casa
Dominick's on Monroe Street, and
it's a good thing. It's like you're
in this secret Ann Arbor reading
- Stop her before she gets weepy.
E-mail Chou at kimberch@umich.edu.
grams as essential for hospitals,
just as Elaine Sims has here with
Gifts of Art.
Regardless of whether you are
a patient seeking a few peaceful
moments in the Friends Medita-
tion Garden or you're simply a visi-
tor enjoyingavolunteer playingthe
baby grand in the lobby, Gifts of Art
is doing its best to ensure the arts
are an integral part of health care
at UMHS.
"The arts are a clear need in a
person - they better the quality of
life," Sims said. "It's a hunger; art
feeds the patients."

e remember the direc-
tors with flashy, dis-
tinct styles, with artful
and innovative techniques. Paul
Thomas Anderson employs a con-
stantly moving camera. Oliver
Stone depends on rhythmic, if not
rapid, editing. Christopher Nolan
reinvents non-chronological sto-
rytelling, and Quentin Tarantino's
voracious dialogue has become a
But there is one director whose
signature is not a specific use of
the lens or a particular brand of
soundtrack. Instead, Peter Weir
stands apart because of the scripts
he chooses to write and direct: He
makes films about microcosms.
They come in different forms.
"The Last Wave" (1977) tells of a
European lawyer caught up in a

For Peter Weir, it's the sfory,
not the style..
By Mitchell Askelrad I Daily Arts Writer

murder involving the underground
society of Australian Aboriginals.
They live by the order of a religion
older than any Western conception.
Weir's first American film, "Wit-
ness" (1985), reveals the Amish
country of Pennsylvania, expos-
ing its special rules and traditions
through the eyes of a Philadelphia
cop played by Harrison Ford. "The
Mosquito Coast" (1986), also star-
ring Ford in one of his most unique
roles as an eccentric, emotionally
abusive inventor, tells of an entirely
new microcosm: Ford's Allie Fox

takes his family to the jungles of
Honduras to build an ice factory
and creates a dystopia functioning
on self-reliance, innbvation and
After that came the grade-school
touchstone "Dead Poet's Soci-
ety" (1989), in which the boarding
school the main characters attend
is as important a character as Robin
Williams's Mr. Keating. Weir's last
two films, "The Truman Show"
(1998) and "Master and Com-
mander: The Far Side of the World"
(2003), continue the auteur's fas-

cination. They pit characters in
situations of which viewers have
only dreamed. The latter depicts in
excruciating detail life aboard an
early 19th-century naval ship, the
former a world based in imagina-
tive genius. More than'just a great
idea conceived by screenwriter
Andrew Niccol, "The Truman
Show" tapped into the narcissistic
fantasies of its audience by suppos-
ing the existence of a community
that revolves around one man.
To reveal something about
our world, it helps to capture and
observe smaller versions of it.
After all, even though we might
have never attended a boarding
school for boys in 1950s New Eng-
land, "Dead Poets Society" teaches
its audience more about how to
See WEIR, Page4B

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11. Unlimited opportunities to improve people's
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If you've had health-care patient experience, and
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140, or 240; or Calculus 115 or 116, you're already,
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To learn more about the PharmD program at the
University of Michigan, visit the University of
Michigan College of Pharmacy Web site at
www.umich.edu/-pharmacy. Or contact Assistant
Dean Valener Perry at 734-764-5550 or by e-mail
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Your future never looked brighter.

_ a




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