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August 13, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-08-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

- The Michigan Da1ly - W ensday, August 13, 7997

Currey tells mature, compelling tale in 'Lost Highway'

Lost Highway
Richard Currey
Houghton Mifflin
It's akin to the feeling we get when
watching a Brady Bunch episode, as we
sit rapt and helpless when Greg saunters
up to the "prettiest girl in school" and
says "Hey, groovy chick." It's a groan
more in the chest than the throat, a sad,
fiightened feeling. It's a weird little
moment of pathos probably best left
unexamined. This is the feeling I got
while reading Richard Currey's most
recent novel, "Lost Highway" (no rela-
tion to David Lynch's similarly titled
movie). And, fascinatingly, it was not
the plot or characters that evoked this
pathos, but rather the book itself.
"Lost Highway" is the chronicle of
Sapper Reeves' life as a West Virginian
banjo savant - its ups (few) downs
(plentiful) and complications. Sapper's
is a strong, compelling story. It is the


basic tale of a man in conflict, strung
between two points: his music (and the
travel that such trade necessitates) and
his family. By no means melodrama,
neither schticky tragedy nor happy
smiles into the sunset, Currey has craft-
ed a successful and believable story.
"Lost Highway" is a story about com-
munication, with its possibilities and
shortcomings and breakdowns - how
close together we, as human beings, can
draw and how far we must always
Many reviewers find Currey's work
notable for its maturity. He feels neither
obliged to create a happy ending with a
deus ex machina, nor does he attempt to
incite depression in his readers by
depicting a heartless world out of bal-
ance. He's honest, and knows that at
times honesty is a fairly grisly thing.
Also, Currey holds the story together
structurally. The novel is broken into
several major sections, each covering a
certain stretch of years in Sapper's life.

These sections are further broken into forced metaphors strain the narrative
dozens of chapters, frequently only a and distract the audience.
page or two long, each chapter ending Also, the entire work is in the first
with a concrete image or moment. person, that person being Sapper
Instead of being drawn back to some Reeves: coal-miner's son, day-laborer,
central metaphoric or visual banjo genius. But the voice
theme, we are anchored is that of a New
to the collection of England academic:
mundane objects "I glanced down
and words that at the label and
make up the amber slosh
Sapper's reality. inside, back at
It's a literary use the highway in
of a fairly com- front, considering
mon filmic tech- the skewed light
nique, and devastatingly falling in the wake of a
successful. fifth passed from front to back
Currey runs into trouble with other across the seat until we were no longer
stylistic qualities. He has a penchant for saddled with an actual decision to end
complex, ultimately unresolvable the day." People simply don't talk this
tropes, e.g. " ... urging the song for- way. The voice of the piece is entirely
ward: three-fingered picking, nothing unbelievable, and thus damaging to the
but motion and cornered light and fine believability of the plot because, when
heat.' It sounds nice and highfaluting, we can't believe in the narrator's words,
but what the hell does it mean? The we find it increasingly difficult to give

a damn about his tale.
To return to the Brady Pathos briefly,
Greg Brady's attempts to be hip are
pathetic in the truest sense, eliciting
feelings of sorrow from the viewer. We
know that Greg can never succeed in
the cruel world that makes John Lennon
a walking god and Greg Brady a dink in
love beads. Similarly, Currey is unable
to succeed in the literary dilemma he
created. In "Lost Highway," Currey dis-I
plays the need to render what is simply
a good story into a piece of art, to ele-
vate it. Currey is strung up between his
need (and ability) to tell an honest and
intriguing story and his desperate desire
to be hip, arty and Homeric. But just
like I never changed the channel on
Greg, no matter how it made me
squirm, I didn't give up on Currey's
"Lost Highway." As to whether this
speaks more for the holding power of
Currey's narrative or the morbid fasci-I
nation of pathos, I don't know.
- David Erik Nelson

Casting, plot propel gripping 'Theory'

By Gabriel Smith sionate Justice Department official
For the Daily Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts).
Black helicopters are keeping Alice has been attempting to inves-
America under surveillance. Six tigate the unexplained murder of her
major earthquakes have occurred in father, to no avail. Of course, this ties
the past year with the space shuttle in back to Jerry in some way. When
orbit for all of them. George Bush is some of Jerry's theories begin to sur-
part of a group called the New World face and prove to be real, Alice finds
Order. Do you believe any of this? In herself in a race for the truth. Throw
director Richard Donner's latest pro- in enigmatic Dr. Jonas (played won-
ject, "Conspiracy derfully by
Theory," Donner Patrick Stewart),
asks audiences to R E V I E W pursuing Jerry
el Gibson stare off into the distance in "Conspiracy Theory." delve into their ConspiraCy and you have
minds to ask what ®Theory quite a tale.
is real and what ** I This movie dis-
isn't. plays some of the
--------------------1 Taxi driver t a s strongest casting
Jerry Fletcher in quite a long
S W atch I I(Mel Gibson) is a very paranoid man. time. Mel Gibson gives one of his
He spends much of his time scouring best performances, if not the best
and jew elry I the local paper for bits of information performance of his career (though
j to print in his newsletter, aptly titled you could make a great case for
R sPair "Conspiracy Theory." When not "Braveheart"). He plays Jerry with a
.F .g working on his publication in his rare flamboyance and neuroticism. I
apartment fortress, he preaches his mean, this is a character who dead-
theories to mild-mannered, compas- bolts his refrigerator.
Expert Watch and lewelry Repair __
Watch Battery Replacement
Watch Band Replacements
14k 8 eld Flled findings An "b" sM d
sentThis, d and rece&ve

Julia Roberts's Alice is an excel
lent complement to Jerry. Robert
dives into this role, breathing kind-
ness, compassion and warmth into4
her character. Patrick Stewart plays
Dr. Jonas in Hitchcockian form, and
director Donner creates a movie that
is better than his "Lethal Weapon"
As well-written as this script is,
certain sequences come up a smidgen
short. This 2-1/4 hour movie loses
fuel at the 2-hour mark. The movie
runs well for about 90 percent of th4
time, but in the last 10 percent, the
"cheese factor" entered. Like many
other summer movies, this one didn't
know when to quit.
After leaving the theater, I won-
dered to myself: Is George Bush real-
ly part of a group called the New
World Order, and how can I join? No,
seriously, audiences will definitely
get their money's worth with this
movie. Even with the final, useless
15 minutes, "Conspiracy Theory" is
one of the best films of the summer.

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