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July 06, 1998 - Image 14

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1998-07-06

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


14 -- The Michigan Daily -- Monday, July 6, 1998

Leavitt's 'Page Turner' is ironically titled

By David Erik Ntislo
Daily ArsWriter
Chalk it up to bourgeois provincialism, but the first
thing that must be said of Leavitt's latest novel, "The
Page Turner," is that it is primarily a gay love story. But,
of course, nothing that simple
would still be praiseworthy
Leavitt's main strength is that
he has written a novel that is not
content to just be a "shocking" The Page
gay love story. "The Page Turner
Turner" is not a coming-out
story, but a coming-of-age story. David Leavitt
It is not so much about orienta- Houghton-Mifflin
tion as aspiration and growth.
The main narrative threads of
"The Page Turner" array them-
selves around 18-year-old aspir-
ing pianist Paul Porterfield. The
term "page turner" refers to one
who manages the sheet music
for a musician at a performance. Paul gets the rare
opportunity of tuming pages for his idol, the discontent
concert pianist Richard Kennington.
Predictably, Kennington is immediately taken with

youthful, earnest Paul, but they do not pursue their -
mutual attraction until a fortuitous reunion in Italy
some months later. The central concentration of "The
Page Turner" is Paul's metamorphosis from a servile,
dreamy-eyed boy to a confident, self-aware man.
But "The Page Turner" isn't simply about Paul. It is
also about the crumbling marriage of Paul's mother,
about parents struggling for acceptance, about
Kennington's promiscuity and his lover Joseph's kind
The wide array of well-crafted, believable charac-
ters, each with their own problems, needs and desires,
populates the novel and is its strength.
Unfortunately, it is also this breadth of focus that
renders "The Page Turner" a mediocre novel. With all
its characters and angles, the story's force becomes
too dispersed. You set the book down, finally, feeling
less like you have been dealt a thunderous, cathartic
blow and more like you have been standing ina light,
emotional mist.
Leavitt was successful in creating sex scenes, gen-
erally a dangerous business in any novel, regardless of
the genders of the characters. All too frequently
authors fall into one of two broad categories: those
who keep their descriptions cryptically, bewilderingly

veiled and those who write almost medically detailed
romps that would make Hugh Hefner blush. Leavitt
expertly walks the middle line, crafting deliciously
translucent, amorous encounters.
Leavitt's writing shows the influence of E.M.
Forster and Oscar Wilde (unfortunately much more of
the latter than the former). Of Paul, who is preparing
to leave the San Francisco suburbs for his transforma-
tional visit to Italy, Leavitt writes, "his adolescence,
which he had loathed, was as of today officially over.
How interminable they had seemed to him, those
years, a kind of endless Sunday aftemoon of the soul,
every shop locked and shuttered!"
Leavitt engages in the classic Wildeian quest for
ever higher, more baroque and grandiose levels of
arrogant overstatement. The excess verbiage becomes
tiresome. Quickly.
Ultimately, Leavitt banks a little too heavily on his
protagonists' sexual orientation. Although "The Page
Turner" is a strong story of the needs and actions of a
set of well-formed characters, it is as if Leavitt ulti-
mately expects the novelty of homosexuality (and its
cultural trappings) to bring together the story's many
threads. Rather than condensing to a searing, vivid
conclusion, "The Page Turner" simply evaporates.

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"Of Light and Darkness" shows that
great stills don't make great game
Continued from page 13
Gar Hob, the Dark Lord of th
Seventh Millennium, from bringing
the Apocalypse and rescue the
Prophetess Angel. To do this, one has
to redeem the apparitions haunting the
town by finding the Hall of Sin corre-
sponding to the sin the apparition
committed, the artifact belonging to
the apparition and the correct combi-
nation of red, blue or green orbs lying
about the town. When the right col
is flashed with the right artifact in the
right Hall of Sin, the apparition is
Sound complicated and difficult?
It is. Take the game's free tour or
customize option to get a feel for the
game. Also, this isn't one of these
games where pressing Fl for the
keyboard controls is all that's need-
ed. Read the instruction booklet, or
at least the quick reference guide.
Just moving about in the game
fun because of Bruvel's designs, but
"Of Light and Darkness" also features
the voice talents of actor great James
Woods as Gar Hob and Lolita
Davidovich as the captured Prophetess
Angel. Davidovich is alright, but
Woods hasa couple of great and funny
lines, especially when the Chosen One
fails (which will often happen to you).
While parts of the game are ente
tamning and the virtual landscape .
awesome, the game falters in the most
important aspect: game play.
Interplay has created all these awe-
some graphics, but they're so awe-
some that the player can't really inter-
act with them.
Basically, you point and click with
the mouse in "Myst"-type fashion to
move around. But unlike "Myst," "Of
Light and Darkness" doesn't offer any
great riddles to explore aside fr
finding the correct combinations
room, colors and artifacts. So even
"Myst" fans will become bored.
Furthermore, the game's time limit to
is too short, especially when starting
"Of Light and Darkness" sacri-
ficed a lot for a great look, but game
makers everywhere should keep in
mind that while no one really knows
what those little mushroom thir
are in "Super Mario Bros.," te
game offers so much that people still
break it out and play. Everyone has
great graphics; few games have great
game play.

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