A photographic look at the 1983 Us Festival and a guide to everything you need to know about the season’s major concert tours, music festivals, album releases, movies and books.
Rock & Roll Tours
This year’s summer-concert season had its loud, smoggy launch over Memorial Day weekend, when the Us Festival took place in Southern California. Nothing else this summer will draw as many people (about 735,000 for the three days of rock & roll) or bands (25), get quite as much media attention or, probably, lose as much money (the amount is still uncertain, though $3 million seems a reasonable estimate). But as is the case every summer, a lot of acts will be hitting the road during the next few months: the kids are out of school and on the loose, and performers from the Police to Simon and Garfunkel to David Bowie will be competing for their dollars.
Some of the artists who played the Us Festival won’t be on the road this summer: For the Clash, Van Halen and the Pretenders, Us was an isolated show rather than part of a tour. But for others — Stevie Nicks and Bowie, to name two — the festival was simply the prelude to a summer tour. Sure, nobody who played the Us Festival is liable to make as much money at other dates, but it was those extravagant paydays that killed festival organizer Steve Wozniak’s chance to turn a profit. (Bowie and Van Halen each picked up about $1.5 million, while even a midlevel band like the English Beat showed just how generous ”Woz” has become: The group made a reported $10,000 playing the 1982 festival, $100,000 nine months later.)
With Us out of the way, booking agents like Premier Talent’s Barry Bell say they’re expecting a stronger-than-usual summer. You’ll even find optimistic predictions from West Coast promoter Brian Murphy of Avalon Attractions, who admits, ”We got killed by the Us Festival. They took all the bands, and May was a disaster — seven shows, as opposed to 24 in April. But now, things are going to start picking up, and come July, August and September, we’ll see lots of shows. For us, the summer’s starting a little later than usual, but we now expect to be doing outdoor shows into October.”
The summer months, of course, are the time when such regional outdoor venues as L.A.’s Greek Theatre, Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Detroit’s Pine Knob, Cleveland’s Blossom Music Center and New York’s Pier 84 see all of their business, booking, for the most part, big-name acts in an effort to make the short season pay.
For those with a taste for larger concerts, Bill Graham will be presenting at least two of his usual Day on the Green events at California’s Oakland Stadium: On July 30th, Bryan Adams, Journey, Triumph and Eddie Money will perform, and on August 20th, Simon and Garfunkel will appear.
The last two are embarking on a tour that will certainly have the biggest average crowd: Their 19 shows will take place exclusively in huge stadiums. Another band that is noted for a somewhat delicate sound but is taking to the stadiums this summer is the Police, whose tour will hit a mixture of stadiums and large indoor arenas. But David Bowie will stick to indoor arenas on his first stateside swing since 1978. And across the country, fans will be able to choose between best-selling newcomers (Men at Work, Asia), old hands (Styx, Supertramp, Journey), generally reclusive performers (Neil Young, Jackson Browne) and even a couple of longtime group members on their first extensive solo tours (Stevie Nicks and Robert Plant). A partial listing follows. —Steve Pond and Erik Hedegaard
A Flock of Seagulls will be touring through August 1st, playing an outdoor show in Los Angeles (July 6th) and New York’s Radio City Music Hall on July 28th.
Joan Armatrading‘s 41-date tour will include a show at Pier 84 in New York City (July 27th) and a series of Canadian shows ending August 14th.
Asia will hit the road on July 26th for 70 shows in almost four months. The tour kicks off in Dayton, Ohio, concentrating on the Northeast and the Great Lakes area until early September.
The B-52’s will tour through early August. Dates during July will be concentrated in the Northeast, with shows at Pine Knob near Detroit (July 16th) and the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in New York (August 5th).
David Bowie launches his American tour at the Montreal Forum on July 12th and will stay on the road well into November. The first swing of Bowie’s tour will take him to arenas in Philadelphia (the Spectrum, July 18th-21st), New York City (Madison Square Garden, July 25th-27th) and Detroit (Joe Louis Arena, July 30th and 31st).
Jackson Browne hits the road in early July for two months of dates. His tour will alternate between summer theaters and indoor arenas, and will include dates at the Nassau Coliseum (July 31st) and Madison Square Garden (August 2nd).
Eric Clapton will finish his American tour on July 16th and 17th at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver. The tour includes stops in Cleveland (July 7th), Milwaukee (July 10th), Chicago (July 11th) and Cincinnati (July 13th).
Elvis Costello will begin on the East Coast in early August. With the Attractions, he will be playing a mixture of large clubs, theaters and arenas, including New York’s Pier 84 on August 10th and Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheatre on September 18th and 19th.
Def Leppard will begin their July dates in the South, move to the Midwest early in the month and spend the rest of the summer working their way west.
Daryl Hall and John Oates, who have been on the road since February, will continue to tour into August. Shows include New Jersey’s Meadowlands (July 14th), the Boston Commons (July 15th) and two dates in Forest Hills, New York (July 22nd and 23rd). Scandal will open the July shows.
Joan Jett is scheduled to begin what she calls World Tour II in early July. No specific dates were available at press time.
Journey has been on the road since March. Their tour will wind up at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu on August 28th.
Loverboy will be on the road until the end of October. Most of July’s dates will be on the West Coast; the group will then move into the Midwest in late July, and wind up on the East Coast in September and October.
Men at Work return from a European tour to kick off American dates on July 21st in Nashville. The band will primarily play arenas, spending most of August near the East Coast, and then heading west near the end of the month.
Bette Midler will perform at a mixture of outdoor summer theaters and indoor arenas, including Cleveland’s Richfield Coliseum (July 20th), Kansas City’s Starlight Amphitheatre (August 3rd) and Denver’s Red Rocks (August 5th).
Joni Mitchell will be concentrating on summer theaters and outdoor amphitheaters during her two-month tour, which began in early June and will wind up at Pier 84 in New York City on July 29th.
Willie Nelson begins two solid months of touring on August 1st in Detroit. His 36 dates in August and September include shows in Chicago (August 12th and 13th), Minneapolis (August 25th and 26th) and Boston (September 10th-12th).
Stevie Nicks and Joe Walsh have been touring together since mid-June. Among their July shows are Washington D.C. (July 7th), Atlanta (July 11th), Chicago (July 18th) and Detroit (July 23rd). Additional dates are expected to follow.
Robert Plant will follow the release of his second solo album with a late-summer tour, his first without Led Zeppelin. Plant will be joined on the tour by drummer Phil Collins, and at press time negotiations were under way to include a third musician of similar stature. Specific dates were not yet set for the tour, which is expected to kick off in late August.
The Police are tentatively set to go on the road July 23rd for 27 shows, ending up in Oakland September 10th. Many of the dates are scheduled to be outdoor stadium shows, including New York’s Shea Stadium (August 18th), the Los Angeles Coliseum (September 3rd) and Boston’s Foxboro Stadium (August 20th).
Linda Ronstadt returned to the road on July 2nd at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Her tour will stick to a mixture of outdoor theaters and large arenas in the Midwest and Northeast.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel hit the road for a 19-date tour beginning July 19th at the 40,000-seat Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio. Three shows will be in 80,000-capacity stadiums: the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto (July 21st); Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, outside New York City (July 31st); and the Dallas Cotton Bowl (August 18th). Other shows include New York’s Shea Stadium (August 6th) and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium (August 27th).
Rick Springfield‘s summer tour covers 85 cities in nearly four months. Springfield began the tour in mid-June; his schedule includes six nights at L.A.’s Universal Amphitheatre (September 6th-11th).
Styx will be on the road through July 31st. The schedule for July includes shows in Philadelphia (July 7th), Detroit (July 14th), Cleveland (July 15th), Pittsburgh (July 16th and 17th) and Los Angeles (July 21st and 22nd).
Supertramp‘s last tour with their current lineup begins August 5th in Philadelphia and ends September 25th, 26 shows later, in Los Angeles.
James Taylor hits the outdoor-amphitheater circuit on August 1st at the Blossom Music Center near Cleveland. Other stops include Chicago’s Poplar Creek (August 4th and 5th) and three at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre (September 13th-15th).
Neil Young is set to go on the road with a full band, as opposed to his last tour, which he did as a solo performer. His dates are scheduled to begin in Wichita, Kansas, on July 1st and cover the Midwest, Southwest and South before hitting the Northeast in late August.
ZZ Top‘s itinerary for the last two months of their tour includes swings through the Midwest and the Northeast, ending at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Arena on August 6th.
Every few years, you hear talk of a folk revival. Usually, it ends up amounting to a brief reunion of an old band and an acoustic album by ”the next Bob Dylan.” The real revival, however, comes each summer, when the annual folk festivals begin.
Since there’s no military draft, the best reason to visit Canada this summer may be the Winnipeg Folk Festival at Birds Hill Provincial Park near Winnipeg, Manitoba. The festival will be held July 7th through 10th, featuring the Roches, Loudon Wainwright III, Taj Mahal, Steve Goodman, Leo Kottke, John Hartford, the David Grisman Quartet and others.
As long as you’re north of the border, you may want to stay on for the Vancouver Festival from July 15th through 17th at Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. Several Latin American groups will be featured, including Grupo Aymara from Bolivia and Kin Lalat from Guatemala. There will be three main-stage concerts each evening by such performers as Richard Thompson, Memphis Slim and Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Stateside, on July 30th, the Clearwater will put in at Perth Amboy, New Jersey, for the Blueberry Clearwater Festival at Bayview Park. Judy Gorman-Jacobs, the Bob Killian Band and, of course, the Hudson River Sloop Singers (founded by Pete Seeger) will be there.
For the third year in a row, the New York Folk Festival is being held at various locations throughout the Big Apple, including Folk City and the Lone Star Cafe and such unlikely places as Times Square and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Odetta and Happy Traum played the kickoff show June 5th, and during the festival week of August 5th through 13th, there will be performances by such artists as Peter Tork, David Amram and Frank Christian.
If a week in New York City doesn’t appeal to you, head out to St. Clairsville, Ohio, for the Jamboree in the Hills at Brush Run Park, July 16th and 17th. This is folk music country-style, and this year’s headliners include Tanya Tucker, Charley Pride, Tammy Wynette, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T. Hall and Freddy Fender.
Finally, the Philadelphia Folk Festival will wrap things up on August 26th through 28th at Old Poole Farm in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. Tom Paxton, Jonathan Edwards, Mike Seeger, and Queen Ida and the Bontemps Zydeco Band are scheduled to appear. —Allan Horin
The Kool Jazz Festival is the biggest event of its kind, and it grows larger and more diverse with every season. This year, more than 2,000 artists are performing at 500 concerts in 22 cities. Such jazz superstars as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Peterson will be returning from 1982; new artists joining the Kool bill this year include Lou Rawls and Roberta Flack. One highlight of the festival will be the appearance of the VSOP II Quintet — featuring Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis — in at least 12 cities.
As usual, the festival will feature a mixture of indoor and outdoor events; some performances will be free, while ticket prices for others will range from five to 20 dollars. A new addition this year is the Kool Jazz Film Festival, which will coincide with the concerts in 11 cities. Among the movies will be Chicago Blues, with Muddy Waters; Blues According to Lightnin’ Hopkins; Jazz Is Our Religion, with Art Blakey; and A Joyful Noise, with Sun Ra.
The Kool Jazz Festival kicked off on June 4th at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Other stops include Minneapolis (July 11th-16th), Cincinnati (July 26th-31st), Seattle (July 30th-August 4th), Atlanta (August 7th-14th), Newport (August 20th and 21st), Chicago (September 1st-4th), Detroit (August 31st-September 5th), San Diego (September 23rd-October 2nd) and Los Angeles (October 1st-5th).
Other jazz festivals this summer include the Montreal International Jazz Festival (July 1st-10th), with Pat Metheny and Tito Puente; the annual Telluride Jazz Festival (August 19th-21st); and the Monterey Jazz Festival (September 16th-18th), with Sarah Vaughan and Wynton Marsalis.
Jazz events abroad: the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland (July 7th-24th), which will include a tribute to Muddy Waters with Johnny Copeland, the James Cotton Band and Buddy Guy; Grand Parade du Jazz in Nice, France (July 9th-19th), with Lionel Hampton and Paquito D’Rivera; the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland (July 8th-10th), with the Jimmy Smith Trio and Woody Herman; and the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland (July 13th-17th), with Thad Jones and Bobby McFerrin. —Lois Anzelowitz
If dainty little concerts held at neatly kept amphitheaters aren’t your idea of a good time, then head for Europe this summer, where you’ll find that huge rock & roll festivals aren’t just a memory after all.
In England, there’ll be the annual Donington Park Festival (August 20th), featuring ZZ Top, Meat Loaf, Twisted Sister and Whitesnake; the heavy-metal Reading Festival (August 26th-28th), with Black Sabbath; the Elephant Fayre in Cornwall (July 29th-31st), featuring popular English reggae rappers Clint Eastwood and General Saint, as well as the Cure; and, of course, the yearly staging of the Isle of Wight Festival, tentatively set for a week in September.
Elsewhere in Europe this summer will be the Vigo Festival in Vigo, Spain (July 23rd); the Seaside Festival in De Panne, Belgium (August 17th), featuring the Thompson Twins; the Lorelei Festival in Germany (August 20th), with U2 and the Steve Miller Band; the Gothenburg Peace Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden (August 5th-7th), featuring Joe Cocker and the newly reformed Band; and the Nyon Folk Festival in Nyon, Switzerland (July 19th-24th). Among acts slated to appear at that event are Jimmy Cliff, Wishbone Ash, Joe Cocker, Albert Collins and Judy Collins.
If you’re a big Rod Stewart fan, you could get a pretty good tour of Europe just following him around as he plays dates (through July 23rd) in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Israel. Other acts expected to hit foreign roads this summer include the Police, Roxy Music, the Clash, Iron Maiden, Phil Collins and A Flock of Seagulls. —Barry Everitt
A lot of people will tell you that the summer is a better time for singles than for albums. I tend to agree. Singles seem to have a longer life in the summer months than during the rest of the year: Think of the way the Human League’s ”Don’t You Want Me” seemed to last all through the summer of ’82, or how the Stones’ ”Start Me Up” kept booming out of radios and tape players the year before that. It’s a time for single-song obsession on the beach, not extended LP listening sessions in the living room. But there are some impressive albums due out in the next few months, and the ones most likely to rule the beachheads and porches of America are mentioned below.
A number of the albums expected to be summertime chart-toppers have already been released. Foremost among these is the Police’s Synchronicity. A&M is hoping to nab the cops their first Number One album, though it remains to be seen whether the LP’s depressing tone will retard its commercial possibilities once ”Every Breath You Take” burns itself out. Speaking in Tongues could make bona fide superstars out of the Talking Heads, while REM’s Murmur seems a good dark-horse candidate for Top Ten status this summer. Cargo, by Men at Work, and the soundtrack from Flashdance should be alive through August, and ”Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” and ”Baby Be Mine” virtually ensure that Michael Jackson’s Thriller will echo across your swimming pool.
Want to hear more of Michael Jackson? You’ll get your chance later this fall when the new Jacksons album is released. Queen frontman Freddie Mercury may produce a few of the tracks on the LP, which should be guaranteed to get some shoes tapping the asphalt. Also due this summer is Stevie Wonder’s first LP of original material since he signed a multimillion-dollar pact with Motown; anyone who caught his Saturday Night Live performance will know that his new stuff sounds pretty good. Two other Motown acts, Rick James and Lionel Richie, should also have new LPs out before the end of summer. And inveterate dancers will want to pick up What Is Beat, a compilation of the top tracks from the English Beat’s first three LPs.
Not all of the summer’s records will be sun ‘n’ fun fare. Bob Dylan’s first album in two years is due in August. It was produced by Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler and features ace reggae sidemen Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. No song titles were available at press time, but word has it that Dylan has recanted his Christian conversion and has been hanging out with a Brooklyn-based Hasidic sect. Whew.
Jackson Browne’s new LP should also be out this summer. Titled Lawyers in Love, the record was coproduced by Browne and Greg Ladanyi and promises to have more of a rock & roll sound. Tom Waits, Browne’s former labelmate at Elektra/Asylum, will have his first LP for Island Records out in August. It’ll be called Swordfishtrombones.
Paul Simon has been working on a new LP for more than a year now, and it should hit the stores in time for his tour with partner Art Garfunkel. (In fact, Garfunkel’s vocalizing will probably be heard on the new LP, which may end up as a bona fide Simon and Garfunkel album.) And Linda Ronstadt is delving into the past for her next album, a collection of standards from the Thirties and Forties, recorded with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. This is Ronstadt’s second stab at an old-time disc; her first attempt, produced by Jerry Wexler, seems to have been shelved permanently.
Elvis Costello’s next record has been held up by legal difficulties in the U.K. but should be out by July. Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, best known for their work with Madness, share production credit on the as-yet-untitled disc, which doesn’t figure to be a summer-oriented offering. Says the El, ”We’re not the kind of people who like to spend too much time in the sun.”
Some of the biggest and loudest names in hard rock also have records on the way. Former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant will be releasing his second solo LP, The Principle of Moments. Asia recorded its second album, Alpha, at Le Studio in Montreal; it will be available in early August. AC/DC’s latest should keep those little kids from getting too near your beach blanket. And Keep It Up, admits Loverboy’s Paul Dean, continues in the band’s traditional vein. The lead cut is a homey little track entitled ”Hot Girls in Love.” Mom and Dad’ll love it.
John Cougar won’t be releasing a record this summer, but fans of American Fool will recognize and enjoy the ragged, raucous sound of Mitch Ryder’s Never Kick a Sleeping Dog. Cougar produced the album in his hometown of Seymour, Indiana; tracks include a cover of Prince’s ”When You Were Mine” and a duet with Marianne Faithfull called ”A Thrill’s a Thrill.” Also due out this summer is a live set from the Doobie Brothers.
Rockabilly phenoms the Stray Cats have delayed the release of their second U.S. album until August. It was recorded both here and in England with their mentor, Dave Edmunds, producing. And albums from the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen are definitely in the offing, but neither is expected before September.
Perhaps the LP that will come closest to fitting the description of the summer album will be Billy Joel’s next LP, An Innocent Man, which bears a Sixties-soul influence. ”I wonder what it’s like growing up now without hearing Percy Sledge sing ‘When a Man Loves a Woman,’ ” ponders Joel. ”I hope this album brings back making out and a little bit of slow dancing — ’cause you could do some sexy stuff.” Summer’s here, and the time is right. —Christopher Connelly
When it comes to movies, the summer season starts in May. This makes as much sense as anything else in Hollywood. In fact, most of the monster-sized films, such as Return of the Jedi, Superman III and Blue Thunder, are already in release. There are, though, a bunch of films oozing down the pipeline between now and Labor Day, perfect for hot nights at the drive-in.
Most of the big pix left are either sci-fi or attempts to be funny. These are referred to as comedies:
National Lampoon’s Vacation follows Chevy Chase around the U.S.A. on a summer, well, vacation. Beverly D’Angelo comes along for the ride, which is reputed to bounce over many a pothole.
Two flicks are due from the SCTV crew. John Candy, Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty move to the big screen in Going Berserk, which has something to do with an aerobics cult. Meanwhile, the redoubtable Bob and Doug MacKenzie, a.k.a. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, swill some suds in Strange Brew, an expose of the Great White North.
Then there’s Mr. Mom, featuring that Mr. Mom guy himself, Michael Keaton, as the househusband of the ever-gorgeous, ever-loony Teri Garr.
The weirdness continues in Easy Money, in which Rodney Dangerfield stands to gain respect and a million dollars if he stops being a slob and cleans up his act.
Also, we’ll see if Curse of the Pink Panther can clean up without the late Peter Sellers but with the ever-profitable director Blake Edwards at the helm.
Amid such silliness, there’s serious clowning in Zelig, the latest from Woody Allen. It is no surprise that it stars Woody Allen. It is no surprise that it stars Mia Farrow. It is no surprise, either, that there’s no word yet of the plot.
And, let us not forget Smokey and the Bandit, Part 3. It’s got Jackie Gleason again, but no Burt Reynolds. If you care about the story line on this one, you probably weren’t planning on seeing it anyway.
All that can be safely said about the sci-fi specials is that none of them is intentionally trying to make you laugh:
There’s Krull, a big-budget Columbia Pictures attempt to transform Ken ”Marco Polo” Marshall from a miniseries maven into a movie star.
And if that doesn’t work, fret not: Columbia also threatens to release Yor, Hunter from the Future, which is all about Yor, a hunter from the future. Honest.
Also due for a landing is Strange Invaders, in which valiant efforts are made to save Nancy Allen from alien beings.
For animal lovers, scary beasts make a comeback. There’s Cujo, the celluloid version of Stephen King’s novel about a spooky dog, and for you shark fans, there’s Jaws 3-D, which, not surprisingly, is in 3-D.
The old action-adventure genre gets short shrift this season, with barely a handful of entries. There’s Savage Island, the first big buccaneer film since The Pirates of Penzance. It stars Michael O’Keefe (The Great Santini) and Gary Gilmore impersonator Tommy Lee Jones.
And then, the one we’ve all been waiting for: Hercules, featuring that lovable hulk, Lou Ferrigno, as guess who.
This is not to say summer ’83 is all fun and games. Ostensibly grown-up fare rears its mature head, too. There’s Class, which stars the beautiful Jackie Bisset in a tale about a couple of prep-school roomies who fall out because one has an affair with the other’s mom.
And there’s The Star Chamber, a paranoia special in which judges secretly meet to mete out secret sentences to criminals gone free. Michael Douglas stars in this vigilante dream.
And, perhaps the class of the field, there’s Sidney Lumet’s Daniel, a film version of E.L. Doctorow’s roman à clef about the Rosenberg spy case. It’s the Cold War hysteria of the Fifties as seen through the eyes of the executed couple’s children, played by Timothy Hutton and Amanda Plummer.
Finally, what would a summer be without dancing? Well, there’s Staying Alive, in which John Travolta puts his tight pants back on and brings us up-to-date on the life and trials of Saturday Night Fever’s Tony Manero. The Bee Gees once again provide the tunes, but this time, Sylvester ”Director” Stallone gets behind the camera. Get out your white suits and boxing trunks….
Summer reading is usually thought of as the kind of books that appeal to people who move their lips when they read. This season, however, there’s so much good stuff around — an avalanche of first novels by ambitious young folk with big cosmologies — it would be a pity not to mention as many as possible, leaving Stephen King fans to their own devices.
In paperback, the reissues have it. Listen: ”Rose smelt the air, considering what she smelt; a miasma of unspoken criticism and disparagement fogged the distance between us.” That’s from Molly Keane’s Good Behavior, recently reissued by Obelisk ($6.95). Keane is an Irish writer whose vivisection of the loopy prewar aristocracy who mortgaged their country estates while they dined on grand illusions will appeal particularly to Nancy Mitford fans.
Anglophilia is a disease that, while rarely fatal, can be debilitating, blinding the afflicted to the merits of such native talent as, say, Cynthia Ozick. Unlike some writers who are an acquired taste, Ozick is, in fact, a revelation. A superb essayist — the recently published Art & Ardor contains, among other gems, a brilliant reappraisal of Edith Wharton — she is also an astonishing short-story writer. Her prose is feral; her sense of morality borders on the sensuous; her punctuation is sublime. Obelisk has reissued an early collection, The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories ($6.95).
To many people (too many), Jean Stafford was best known as the brilliant but difficult wife of the difficult but brilliant Robert Lowell. As handmaiden to Lowell’s genius— a role Stafford endured but did not relish (read her savage short story ”An Influx of Poets” for a less than worshipful treatment of Cal, Jarrell, Schwartz and Co.) — Stafford also managed to find time to become an important short-story writer and novelist. And The Mountain Lion is a good place to start (Obelisk, $5.95).
Other paperbacks worth noting here are Geronimo Rex (Penguin, $5.95), one of Barry Hannah’s early novels, long out of print; and Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates (Delta, $7.95), a savage and sad account of America in the Fifties.
Among the summer novels is some exotic fare. South of Nowhere (Random House, $11.95) is a torrid mixture of politics and seduction, of limpid prose and tumescent imagination, by Portugal’s leading novelist, Antonio Lobo Antunes. Colombia Gold, as its title suggests, is a wild tale of dope smuggling and corruption in high places — inspired, but true enough that its author, Jaime Manrique, dare not return to his native country (Clarkson Potter, $12.95).
My Search for Warren Harding, by Robert Plunket (Knopf, $13.95), boasts no geography more exotic than L.A. but manages to be a kind of Candide of academia— a story James Atlas might have written in the Atlantic had he a sense of humor about his ambitions.
The Times Are Never So Bad (Godine, $13.95) is a new collection of short stories by Andre Dubus, one of the few short-story writers in America who hasn’t yet been co-opted by the New Yorker or the experimental outposts that lie beyond. Music for a Broken Piano, by Kentucky writer James Baker Hall, is a gorgeously written exposé of the Utopian nightmare that should induce acid flashes in anyone who is embarrassed to look back on 1969 (Fiction Collective, $11.95).
The South continues to rise with yeasty novels like Natural Man, Ed McClanahan’s well-received minor masterpiece about growing up scatological in the Forties (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $11.50), and Modern Baptists, by James Wilcox (Dial, $14.95), another look at the New South of designer jeans and fundamentalism, of Bobbie Ann Mason characters and their kin.
What happens when an esteemed fiction editor (and champion of the idiosyncratic) sets out to write a novel? It makes sense, I suppose, that he finds a madman with a manuscript and then endows him with powers of shtick that would do Portnoy proud. Dear Mr. Capote, by Gordon (”Captain Fiction”) Lish, is not for the squeamish (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $15.95). Neither is Alice in Bed, by Cathleen Schine (Knopf, $12.95), fun for the fainthearted. Alice, a first novel by a tough new writer, is about a bedridden young crank with a mysterious and debilitating disease (decidedly not Anglophilia) and a bristly sense of humor that makes hospital manners and family malaise violently funny. It also answers the metaphysical stumper, Is there sex after traction?
Another first novel, Fisher’s Hornpipe, by Todd McEwen (Harper & Row, $12.95), is more brio than brilliance. It is, nonetheless, required reading for anyone who’s done time in Boston. Famous All Over Town, by Danny Santiago (Simon and Schuster, $14.95), is a fast-moving account of coming of age in the barrio. Also famous all over town is Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, by John Calvin Batchelor (Dial, $16.95). A heady stew of religion, myth, pop apocalypse and verbal pyrotechnics, Batchelor’s second novel has had the critics, particularly those with academic pretensions, going wild in the stacks. Real folk like it, too.
Non (Wave) Fiction
Walker Percy, one of our best novelists, has taken a sharp turn for the abstract with Lost in the Cosmos (Farrar, Straus & Giroux $14.95). Subtitled The Last Self Help Book, it proves that fiction is stronger than nonfiction; or, as Percy writes: ”Through art, the predicament of self becomes not only speakable but laughable.” Which brings us to The Book of the SubGenius (McGraw-Hill, $9.95). A kind of New Wave Revelations — as if the Holy Scriptures, like the words of the prophets, were written on the back of matchbook covers and the labels of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap — this pastiche of advertising art and arch arcana is for those who can ”laugh at the fact that nothing is funny anymore.”
Hollywood Babble On
New York Times correspondent Aljean Harmetz is probably the most respected reporter on the movie industry in the business — a writer with a grasp of both the aesthetic and alchemical aspects of Tinseltown. Rolling Breaks, a collection of her pieces, reads more like an exposé than a collection (Knopf, $14.95).
On the other side of the aisle is Midnight Movies (Harper & Row, $19.50), an affectionate look at the business and pleasures of such late-night cult classics as Pink Flamingos (low-rent maestro John Waters discusses his disavowed Diane Linkletter Story). The authors, J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, are film critics and longstanding participants in the Wilde Oscars.
Addendum, Though Some May Call It Erratum
If you’re going to read but one book this summer, make it Slugs (Little, Brown, $4.95). Despite a devastating review in Publishers Weekly (”low-level humor; ages 5-10”), Slugs is the most amusing book since Leo Buscaglia discovered the meaning of life. With poems of a sort by David Greenberg (”Breakfast? Slug juice/Slug soup’s great for lunch/Fry ’em like potatoes/Love the way they crunch”) and nifty illustrations by Victoria Chess. —Tracy Young