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August 13, 2001 - Image 12

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-08-13

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 13, 2001
MTV: Please stick
to the music videos

ARTS

By Laura LoGerfo
Daily Arts Writer
MTV books? A practical joke, oxy-
moron or both? I conjecture that MTV
execs revolted
when Oprah con-
quered the book-
world ("only
The MTV can influ-
Foreigner ence popular cul-
Meg Castaldo ture, dammit!"),
Grade: C so they struck
MTV Books back by producing
MTV Books - a
sub-division of a
respected publish-
ing house that
"young, hip"
authors to the TRL fans who can read.
All six of them.
The latest offering is "The Foreign-
er," a quick summer read by Meg
Castaldo, a twenty-something Southern
Californian transplanted to New York
City. "The Foreigner" recounts the sor-
did adventures of a twenty-something
Southern Californian transplanted in
New York City. Hmmm.
The story unfolds as Alex, the hip,
unfocused narrator, house-sits for her
gay uncle, a feisty character who
deserves far more attention than he
receives, and meets her uncle's bohemi-
an neighbor, a Swedish import. Despite
her uncle's warnings to avoid entangle-
ments with the Swede, Alex readily
submits to her admitted weakness for
foreign men.
Only a few days after Alex is seduced
by the charming foreigner, she finds
him brutally murdered in his apartment

- a somewhat fortunate break for Alex
since her Belgian boyfriend Jan (pro-
nounced "Yahn" and not to be confused
with Marsha Brady's annoying sister) is
arriving in town the next week for a
business trip. Is the Scandinavian vic-
tim the eponymous foreigner, or could
it be the Belgian? Ah, suspense.
Alex tortures herself about the
Swede's death and lands in the middle
of a "Law & Order" episode led by a
handsome cop named Jacob. Just when
the reader loses track of which guy is
which, more males enter the picture.
Alex's best friend from two days
before surprises her by coming to
NYC, ostensibly a pit stop on his long,
twisted route across America as a drug
addicted mooch. He acts strangely
towards Alex, threatening her trust in
him and forcing the reader to speculate:
Does his odd behavior make him "the
foreigner?"
Somewhat like MTV, the book is
addicting, and I couldn't help but read
the entire novel in one sitting. One's
drive to finish the book derives from
Castaldo's stubborn refusal to reveal too
much about the characters and their
roles in the murder. On the one hand,
this skillfully keeps the reader curious
and involved. As Alex and the reader
constantly question who the real for-
eigner is, we also question who's good
and who's bad. Indeed, Castaldo knows
how to recreate convincingly real dia-
logue and captures the reactions of an
indecisive naif to a frightening situation
accurately.
On the other hand, the author loses
this realistic touch, and the writing
becomes uneven. She waffles between
reality and fantasy, autobiography and
fiction, so frequently, the effect is jar-

ring. A representative example: "Once,
at Neiman Marcus, a female colleague
had asked me: 'How does it feel to be
beautiful?' When people think you're
beautiful, you work at being nice." I
work at controlling my gag reflex.
Earlier in the chapter where this awk-
ward passage appears, Alex's anxieties
at meeting her European boyfriend after
a long separation are beginning to sur-
face (completely plausible worries).
But these reflections on her stunning
beauty do not reflect the doubt she sup-
posedly feels. No real woman, strug-
gling to define herself against the chaos
of NYC, trying to extinguish latent
insecurities, would stand before a mir-
ror remembering that she is the envy of
all women. Such gross literary missteps
compel me to turn against the protago-
nist.
Just two women besides Alex are fea-
tured in the book, and only incidentally.
One woman dates Alex's best friend
and is a fashion model as well as a
sniper for an African army, while the
other is a bitchy, possessive co-worker
The only woman who resembles any-
thing real would be Alex, the proxy for
the author. But of course.
Although I much prefer Stephen
Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wall-
flower," a compelling book published
by MTV in 1999, if you can get
through an uneven story speckled with
passages that make you wince from
embarrassment, "The Foreigner" is a
passable beach book - a small, light-
weight, and entertaining novel.

'Turismo' excels at
looks, not originali
By Matt Grandstaff seen on a home console. Unfo
Daily Arts Writer many of the flaws of the previou
continue in "GT3," most deali
When the original "Gran Turismo" collision. For instance, cars neve
was released in 1998, video game fans damage from opposing cars or
worldwide declared it the most fun, real- Rather than smashing into c
istic racing game ever to hit home con- breaking through fences, carsjus
soles. Combining real around in a fashion similar to th
cars like the Dodge Porsche in the movie "Command
Grade: B+ Viper with advanced While these oversights are
driving physics, both the game features enhanced acc
Gran "Gran Turismo" and and braking. Taking advantag
Turismo 3 its sequel became DualShock 2's analog buttons,
For Playstation 2 must-have games for and accelerating is now dete
Sony racing and non-racing how hard you press the butto
fans alike. While this change is cool, it w
Three years later, Sony's latest install- the blisters on your :"A to a n
ment of the series, "Gran Turismo 3: A- As for the multi-player
Spec," brings its tested gameplay to the "GT3," there is one new feat
Playstation 2. makes the game standout. W
The most notable aspect of "A-Spec" game still features a two play
is its unparalleled graphics. Never before screen mode, the game now f
on any system has a game looked this option that allows up to six pl
good. Forget the days of polygonal play at once. Using an i-Link
shaped cars, as each car in "GT3" is cable, gamers can hook multiple
shinier and more polished than your.car tions and TVs to allow for ex
will ever be. similar to "Daytona USA" at
The elemental effects of the game are The only downside to this op
equally impressive, especially the game's you have to have enough money
advanced lighting effects. From the way TVs, Playstation 2s, game co
the sun shines through the trees to the copies of GT3 and i-Link cabl
way light reflects off the side of a newly you and your friends have a few
washed BMW, "GT3" makes other rac- dollars to throw around, get read
ing games want to hide their faces in the ultimate racing experience.
shadows. The only other notable ch
While the look of "GT3" is without a "GT3" is its new and improve
doubt enhanced, little has been done to track. While the previous game
improve its objectives. In fact, aside from good songs from the likes of
pretty graphics, the game seems identical and the Foo Fighters, "GT3" o
to "Gran Turismo 2," requiring you to diversity with bigger names.
earn money to buy more cars and better track features popular songs by J'
parts, while earning new licenses allows drix, Papa Roach, Lenny Kra
you to open new events. even an exclusive Snoop Do
The gameplay is also similar to previ- called "Dogg's Turismo 3"
ous "Gran Turismo" games. This is not songs make the game a more exh
necessarily a bad thing, as "GT2" fea- experience, the game still lacks f
tured some of the tightest controls ever nality needed to be a classic.

.,........".s mzvaerwenn. . ^ lf..,«,« ................^... Y +Y' Y 'T 'T

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