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October 09, 1995 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-09

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 9, 1995

Renowned author breaks boundaries

Jazz great Slide Hampton.
Side Hampton's first- s t

By Dean Bakopoulos
Daily Arts Writer
When one of the top novelists of the1
decade visits the University, most ofhis
audience expect someone who fits that1
stereotypical mode ofa grizzled author:t
Old, distinguished in mannerisms andI
slightly aloof. Kazuo Ishiguro, authorc
of"Remains ofthe Day" (Vintage, 1989)1
and the newly published "TheI
Unconsoled" (Knopf, 1995), shattereds
any such illusions the audience gath-
ered may have had about this Japan-s
born, British citizen; he delighted them
with the humorous, yet haunting qual-
ity of his new novel.
Ishiguro looks kind of like an En-
glish 124 or Chem 125 T.A., dressed
casually in his trademark black attire, a
loose sport coat over a gray t-shirt and
his over-sized spectacles. His youthful
appearance and constant quipping of-
ten made the audience forget that they
were in the presence of a contemporaryi
master of fiction. But the minute he1
began to read from "The Unconsoled,"1
no one in the audience could forget.
Local author Charles Baxter intro-I
duced Ishiguro to the standing room
only crowd, extolling high praises on1
Ishiguro and his new novel. Baxterj
called the novel "mind-haunting," and1
filled with "expressive air pockets of1
dead silence." Baxter's lavish descrip-1
tion of the novel prompted Ishiguro to
remark that he hoped his reading could1
match theeloquence ofthe introduction1
_ indeed it did.
Ishiguro assured the audience that he
would read for "only eighteen minutes"
and then began to read a section from
his work that captured both the night-1
mare landscape and the humor of the
work. He then looked at his watch, said
"that's eighteen minutes" and set his
book down while the crowd erupted
with enthusiastic applause.
"The Unconsoled" is Ishiguro's most
ambitious novel to date. It is the story of
a world-famous classical pianist who
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Doe Thing, tonight at the Blind Pig. His
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showcases Doe at top performance.
The softer acoustical atmosphere of
the record digs deep into the artist's
lyrical notebook, shining bright into the
life of Doe. With "Kissingsohard," Doe
and his new band fly high throughout
the disc, creating a very expressive
and emotional record. Between the
acoustic numbers and the harder
rockier ones, The John Doe Thing offers
something for everyone. The John Doe
Thing will be opening for Juliana
Hatfield tonight at the Blind Pig.
Tickets are $12 In advance at
Schoolkids', and doors open at 9:30

Kazuo Ishiguro
Rackham Amphitheater
October 7, 1995

of emotional control.
Such a "Kafka-esque" theme, as some
critics have called it, poses a fundamen-
tally new challenge to Ishiguro. While
his "Remains of the Day" stands as an
example ofperfect craftsmanship, "The
Unconsoled" takes on a certain element
of heavy vagueness, complete with de-
liberately disoriented prose, an ever-
growing cast of characters and a heavy
reliance on exposition through interior
monologues. These techniques blend
together to create a stunning novel, but
one which is much less accessible and
highly unlikely to be digested for the
masses in a Merchant-Ivory film.
Ishiguro told the Rackham audi-
ence that he felt more than ready to
meet the challenges of this ambitious
work. He said that winning Britain's
passionately coveted Booker Prize in
1990, at the age of 34, "liberated him
enormously." He said that the Booker
Prize is so highly coveted in the U.K.,
many novelists cannot seem to escape
the burden its looming presence cre-
ates. With the Booker monkey off his
back, Ishiguro said that he felt that he
could experiment a little bit more with

arrives in an unfamiliar European city
and has no clue where he is supposed to
be. He encounters a series of "friends"
and "acquaintances," but for the life of
him cannot rememberthem. Trapped in
this milieu of uncertainty, the protago-
nist, identified throughout the novel
only as "Mr. Ryder," begins a night-
marish attempt to make sense of where
he is and what he is there for. Like most
of Ishiguro's works, "The Unconsoled"
centers heavily around the theme of a
character trying to maintain some sense

his fiction, and no longer felt obli-
gated to write in a certain way. "The
Unconsoled" clearly embodies that
newfound freedom.
In a September interview with "Pub-
lishers' Weekly," Ishiguro said, "This
book will probably produce a large va-
riety of interpretation. And it involves a
lot of exploration on my part as well. I
felt that I had to move forward as a
writer, or I should be trapped for a lot of
things I had been praised for in the
In some interviews, Ishiguro has
called "The Remains of the Day" an
"over-perfect" work, largely because
it is so technically and fundamentally
sound. In "The Unconsoled" Ishiguro
seems to open up as a writer, both
with language and with ideas. But this
technique, though perhaps less "per-
fect," wasn't any easier to work with.
Ishiguro says that he wrote a series of
short stories, not to publish, but to
practice creating the nightmarish land-
scape of the novel. Ever the craftsman
(he agonized for weeks over one line
in "The Remains of the Day"),
Ishiguro took nearly nine years to
complete the entire process of writing
this ambitious work.
Perhaps what was most refreshing
about Ishiguro's visit to Ann Arbor
was the genuine friendliness and
warmth he shared with the audience.
Playfully teasing them for coming to
a literary event on a Saturday night,
he profusely thanked them for the
warm reception he received, and then
concluded his reading with taking the
time to answer the audience's ques-
tions. Talking about his characters
and their shoddy habit of self-decep-
tion, he grinned. "If we we're com-
pletely honest with ourselves," he said,
"we'd be very depressed." It was this
kind of mix of humor and insight that
made Ishiguro's visit to Ann Arbor a
truly memorable and enjoyable expe-

By James Miller
Daily Arts Writer
Slide Hampton is a man that makes
any jazz fan feel young at heart. A
veteran of jazz's heyday of the late
'50s, Slide is still involved in the musie
at the roots of jazz. Hampton has been
playing in all-star jazz ensembles for
years. He recently began using his sta-
tus as one ofjazz's venerable old men to
form his own groups, touring both in
the United States and abroad.
On Thursday evening, Slide's band
came to the Power Center and added
some class to a venue already used to
the finest of the finery. Playing only the
music of Charlie Parker on this tour, the
band consisted of the standard big band
compliment of saxes, trumpets and
In fact, it was the size of the group that
seemed to hamper the performance. The,
genius of Bird's music lies in his ability to
make one melody line soundrich and full.
Bird seemed one of the greatest instru-
mental technicians since Paganini. The
amazing thing about his music was the
blinding speed he gave to blues-tinged
improvisation. Slide's band, though it fit
the colors of a bi band w as justtoo

big to play some aspects of Bird's music
to its fullest potential.
The arrangements of the tunes, all
done by the guys in the band, were too
heavy-handed in places to convey Bird's
light touch.
This is not to say the concert was bad.
To play any of Bird's music, even mar-
ginally well, is a musical feat of no
small caliber. The first tune, the "Over-
ture," was a medley of several Bird
tunes, mostnotably a few barsof"Now's
the Time." The band displayed its skill
in playing a transcribed Bird, solo in
unison, a tough thing for one player to
do, let alone a whole ensemble.
The next two tunes, "Hot House" and
"Scrapple From the Apple," exhibited
the soloists' ability to emulate Bird's
style. They played with the smooth,
rounded neo-Kansas City style Bird is
famous for. It was here, rather than in
the full band sections, that you could
really hear Bird's legacy. All would
have been perfect had it not been for the
piano player. His right hand playing
was good, even echoing the work of
Red Garland, one of Bird's more able
pianists. More often than not, though,
he slacked off on supporting his solos

and the band with left hand chords,
playing like Captain Hook.
The improvisers threw it into high
gear for "Anthropology," a Bird stan-
dard that was transformed into an old-
fashioned tenor sax battle.
The second set consisted mostly of
ballads, which allowed the saxophone
players to flex their slow tempo muscles.
The first tune, "Confirmation," was re-
worked by the band for more of a tex-
tured, polyrhythmic feel. As Slide said,
"That piece came from Africa, to
America and back to Africa."
The show closed with "Charlie Parker
Will be Remembered," another seam-
less, slick medley of tunes that allowed
the band to show off their swinging
talents. This was followed by "Moose
the Mooch," played in a similar fashion
but with more leeway for solos.
Since it was Slide's band, he had to.
conduct the group and cue solos, which
didn't give him the chance to solo much
himself, which everyone would have
liked to hear. All in all, it was a good
tribute to a goodman. There were people
from three generations listening to his
music. I think Bird would have been
proud, of Slide and of us.


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