THEE , CWednesday, May 22, 1996 - The Michigan Daily - 11
By Greg Parker Daily Arts Editor
Trying to sum up the world of nonfiction literature is like
trying to summarize the history of the world in one para-
graph. Where do you start, what do you include, and why?
We can start with slightly subversive topics. Lucky for us, the
Red Scare is over, and you can read all the subversive books that
your heart desires. A good start is "The Encyclopedia of the
American Left" (University of Illinois Press), providing essen-
tial information on any left or radical group you can think of.
try David Halberstam's "The Fifties" (Random House),
w ich presents a critical look at the era of McCarthy, Ike and
the Cold War. What's good is that even if you read these selec-
tions, you won't have to testify in front of the House Un-
American Activities Committee anytime soon.
Ofthe more recent releases pertaining to American history,
notable is Nelson Lichtenstein's "The Most Dangerous Man
in Detroit " (BasicBooks), perhaps the most complete biogra-
phy of former UAW president Walter Reuther avail-
able. Another highlight is "The Murrow Boys," by
unley Cloud and Lynne Olson (Houghton
fflin), which documents Edward Murrow's revo-
lutionary team of broadcast correspondents cover-
ing World War It. If neither of these sound interest-
ing, check out the displays of featured nonfiction
books at Shaman Drum or Borders - often the
most obscure and odd selections make the most
interesting reading experiences.
If world history is more your style, travel back to
the Middle Ages with "The Cambridge Illustrated
Atlas of Warfare: The Middle Ages, 748-1487," by
Nicholas Hooper and Matthew Bennet (Cambridge
iversity Press). An interesting companion to this
00k would be any history of medicine, where one
could learn about all the great, effective Middle
Ages medical techniques - like bloodletting - that
were given to Middle Ages battlefield casualties.
Borders is celebrating Asian Heritage Month, fea-
turing titles like "The Silver Drum: A Japanese
Imperial Memoir" by Princess Chichibu (Talman
Publishing), a recounting of life in the Japanese
Imperial Family. The book is the first memoir of its
4 e written in, rather than translated into, English.
other featured title is "A Phoenix Rising:
Impressions of Vietnam," by Zoe Schramm-Evans
(Pandora Books), a pertinent look at Vietnam, a coun- Rogier D
try breaking into the global economy as we speak. here from
Chances are, if you have the extra time to read,
you have the extra time to actually cook. So while you pick
up your next French history tome, why not pick up a cook-
book and frying pan as well? Indulge your taste buds with a
crepe or two, and take a literary and culinary trip to glorious
France. Of the new cookbooks available, Julee Rosso's
"Fresh Start" (Crown Trade Paperbacks) offers low-fat cook-
ing at its finest, while her bestselling "The New Basics
*okbook" (Workman Publishing) would be a sufficient cor-
nerstone for any amateur gourmet's library.
Baseball fans take note: The tenth edition of "The Baseball
Encyclopedia" (Macmillan USA) is on bookshelves, chock-
full of enough information on ERA, RBI, base on balls and
other numbers to drive any statistics freak into ecstasy.
Whatever you choose to read, remember that we live in a
book lover's utopia. Take advantage of this fact. While Ann
Arbor has its fair share of new book stores, don't forget about
the city's wonderful used-book stores with bargains abound.
,ad if you don't want to pay for books at all, borrow them
Tom the University libraries or the Ann Arbor Public Library.
In any event, you're bound to find what you're looking for.
So on the next beautiful day, grab your book, head to the Law
Quad, curl up on your favorite blanket, and soak up the sun
as.you flip the pages.
%~cjis oa '~24'r~'ft !'s
Tom Robbins' "Skinny Legs and Al" is a madhouse of rei-
gious predicament and artistic struggle, giving the impres-
sion that you're reading the most profound comedy sketch
in existence. It's also the only novel Ive read with a cast of
inanimate objects. Wacky and good.
Milan Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"
takes a hard look at adult relationships, using the charac-
ters as examples for illustrating the author's well-founded
ideas. The various stories contained in the novel serve as a
backdrop for Kundera's interesting take on love, commit-
ment, art and what it means to be Czech.
When it comes to summer, most college-age people think
of getting out of school and leaping into a sustained period of
late nights spent drunk and sometimes waking up in a bed
other than their own.
To such persons I say, with all the fury of a Baptist preach-
er, "why not read a good book?" And I do not necessarily
mean "Jane Eyre" here. There is a vaultful of literature that
speaks to and reflects upon the lifestyle overloaded with
drink, drugs and sex, and much of it is, to say the least, worth
The best place to begin is with the work of Henry Miller.
His first published novel, "Tropic of Cancer" (Grove
Wiedenfeld), was banned from publication for nearly thirty
years because of its candor, and it is considered one of the
greatest novels of the 20th century. Miller was never a big
drinker, but he fornicated with the best of them and wrote
about it with a lyric sense that is unsurpassed. What
makes "Cancer," along with all his other work, so
fantastic is that while he engages in unpredented
hedonism, he expounds upon every facet of human
existence and thought in a simulataneously nihlistic
and optimistic way. He both denies any meaning in
life beyond the sensual and turns such emptiness
into a thing of great joy and beauty.
Such nihlistic revelry can also be found in the
works of Charles Bukowski. While Bukowski wrote
over 40 volumes in his lifetime and most of them
say the same thing over and over, reading at least
one of his books is a very good idea. His collection
of short stories, "Tales of Ordinary Madness" (City
Lights Books), is probably a good place to start.
Anais Nin also wrote about the "joys of sex" but
." from a much more feminine perspective. Her works
vary in style and taste, from the pure erotica of
"Delta of Venus" (Sparrow) to the ethereal and, at
times, monotonous psychology of "Cities of the
Of course, some people may be predisposed to
works of a less optimistic sort - literature that
speaks to the adverse consequences of liquor, drugs
The staple novel in this genre would have to be
con C William S. Burroughs' "Naked Lunch" (Grove
y drove Weidenfeld). While "Naked Lunch" has a greater
reputation than it deserves, it is a fantastic foray into
the drug-induced hell of the author that will both
shock and impress the reader.
The best and perhaps least recognized writer of this genre
is Raymond Carver. Carver's stories are lonely testaments to
the lives of those who started with next to nothing and lost
even that, due to problems with alcohol and adultery. "What
We Talk About When We Talk About Love" (Vintage), is his
most candid collection, seconded only by "Cathedral"
(Vintage). Every one of Carver's stories delivers a sense of
hopelessness and isolation readers may not empathize with,
but will certainly appreciate for its artistic perfection.
Of course, these are just a few books from a vast genre. At
some point or another, just about every great writer pens a
tale or two about alcoholism or sex and many seem to gravi-
tate toward the subject a little too much - just ask Jack
"The Focus" is a new feature in The Michigan Daily
Summer Weekly. Similar to "The Friday Focus," featured
during the Daily's regular terms, the Focus will appear each
week, produced by either the Daily News, Sports or Arts
section. The Focus is designed to give readers an in-depth
look at issues students are discussing from the coffee shops
to the Diag this summer.
oekes and Yi-Ming Chiu spend a weekend afternoon in the Diag enjoying their novels. T
Toledo to enjoy the Ann Arbor atmosphere.
Do you like trivia? Pick up the good old standby, "The
Guinness Book of World Records." Packed with the fattest,
cheapest, smallest and talest, this never fails to impress ore
amuse. Updated every year, the newest volume promises I
the latest in record-breaking activity.
Andre Dubus' "Selected Stories" is an extensive sample of
c S Q S the long career of one of Americas foremost storytelers.
Every one of Dubus' stories reflects upon faith and love -
how they are lost and how they are regained.
Jesse Ackles, for the aly, contributed to se