The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on May 12, 1996 · Page 58
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 58

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 12, 1996
Page 58
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int UNUirtiwuLib ainn ouimumy, ivimt oao IP-,- mum mwtm PHOTOGRAPHY Ansel Adams pupil captures a wide range of filial love EVERY MOTHER'S -J, AND SON'S . . . Jacket photo by Mariana Cook Chronicle Books IMAGE By Sara E. Sanderson SPECIAL WRITER t's simple. If you ever had a mother, you will be delighted by this book. Oh, that's right ... That would mean everyone. Released on May 1, in time for Mother's Day today, photographer Mariana Cook's extraordinary portraits capture the affection the occasion brings to mind. Her stellar Mothers (and) Sons - In Their Own Words is a moving tribute to love. There is a wonderful blend of the famous and the not-so-famous. Yes, we hear from Steven Spielberg; we also find a mother-son window-washing duo from Indianapolis. We meet mothers whose names we know (Ruth Bader Gins-burg; Mary Higgins Clark), and mothers whose sons' names we recognize (Henry Kissinger; Bill Clinton). We meet a gallery owner in New York City City, a homemak-er in San Antonio, Texas. Simplicity works The Spielberg section explains why the master movie-maker equates music with his love for Mom: Read her tale of his school days. Or you can simply gaze again at Cook's radiant portrait of Spielberg and his mother. Her camera truly does move beyond capturing, to illumination. The technique appears decep tively simple; black-and-white film and subjects at ease, posed in front of black velvet or out in nature. One of the last students of Ansel Adams, Cook reflects Adams' intimate, contemplative approach. She has learned well. Her photography becomes the very definition of "portrait" to depict or draw forth. She does. In the introduction, Isabel Allende shares, "I had never talked about my relationship with my son until Mariana Cook invited us to pose for her ... " But talk openly about her son she does, and she Mothers (and) Sons-In Their Own Words Author: Mariana Cook. Pages: 126. Price: $22.95. Publisher: Chronicle Books. Star ratings: 4 excellent, 3 good, 2 fair, t poor. writes of the effect on them both of the death of her daughter, Paula. Son Nicholas and mother Isabel pose for Cook seated, with mother enfolded in her young adult son's arms. Protection and mutual pride come to mind easily as you search the gleam in strong eyes, the nudge of a smile on both faces. "Maybe that is why I like Mariana Cook's photography so much," Allende confides. "When she asked us to pose for her, my son adopted immediately the same protective gesture of that day in the forest when we bid Paula farewell. Looking at this photograph, I realized Nicholas has been holding me in his arms much longer than I ever held him." We're all in it A problem with the book is deciding where to start. Page one, or jump in here ... no ... there. One entry is a very young son on his mother's lap; another is a very old mother on her son's lap. There are mothers with heads thrown back, laughing uproariously; sons curled up with giggles, and mothers and sons with perfect, serious posture. Holding hands, wrapped in hugs, posed side-by-side not touching at all; smiling shyly, beaming outrageously. We are treated to genuine love and joy. Besides the mothers we have heard of, or the sons we recognize, there are even mothers and sons both known. Look up diplomat Pamela Harriman and son, Winston S. Churchill; read what young Churchill thought was his famous grandfather's job. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, Cook has captured us all, at our best. Now, let me tell you about my son ... oh, we're not in the book. But it feels like we are, and that feels great. Gold stars and a blue ribbon for Cook. Sara Sanderson is a free-lance writer in Indianapolis. Actor-icon's confusion radiates across generations In writing the latest biography of James Dean, Donald Spoto says he strove to put the truth first. By Nelson Price ' STAFF WRITER Dt's a biography of a Hoosier that's dedicated to another Hoosier. And Rebel The Lije and Legend of James Dean begins with verse from a third Hoosier: a poem by James Whitcomb Riley about the deceptive aspects of fame. The poem precedes the first chapter, which is set at last September's jammed James Dean Festival In Fairmount, the Grant County town (population: 3,000) where Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Dean Author: Donald Spoto. Pages: 306. Price: $25. Publisher: HarperCollins. the future movie Icon grew up. Among the thousands of.festival-goers was Rebel author Donald Spoto, 54, a New York-based biographer whose subjects have included Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich and Laurence Olivier. Why add Dean to the list? "So many inaccuracies have been written about him," Spoto said of the legendary star of East of Eden (1954), Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956), who died in a spectacular car crash at age 24. "James Dean has been made to serve a series of agendas since he died," Spoto commented during a recent visit to Indianapolis. "Truth is secondary to many writers. "Also, there hasn't been an attempt to understand his connection with the culture. James Dean is the patron saint of adolescent confusion. Generation after generation of misunderstood young people see him on the screen as a validation of their own confusion." Family's cancer pattern Rebel is packed with details about the Hoosier ancestry of Dean's parents, Wlnton and Mildred Dean, including the pattern of cancer deaths among her relatives. Mildred Dean died of cancer when her son was 9, a trauma from which many contend the sensitive, ambitious youth never recovered. Spoto said he discovered much of his information by digging through state archives as well as from extensive Interviews with Dean's friends In later life, including actress-dancer Elizabeth "Dizzy" Sheridan, in whom Dean confided details about his family history. Among the Information in Rebel promoted as new is a report that the Deans falsified copies of their marriage certificate to conceal the fact that Dean, born in February 1931, was conceived before his parents' wedding in July 1930. Somehow Dean learned the truth, Spoto reports and the, actor even decided to name the; silver Porsche in which he was--; killed The Little Bastard to symbolize the circumstances surrounding his birth. While researching A Pas-slonjor Lije: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor (1995), a book about Dean's glamorous co-star In Giant, Spoto said he discovered memos," among studio executives alarmed by Dean's desire to have the "bastard" nickname emblazoned onthe Porsche. "James Dean had a significant talent, but a talent without focus" or discipline," Spoto commented as'he relaxed in the Northside home of Fred McCashland. - A longtime faculty member at Brebeuf Preparatory School, McCashland attended Iona College with Spoto nearly 40 years ago.;; Their enduring friendship, Spoto said, prompted him to dedicate Rebel to the Hoosier educator. ; "James Dean was 24 going on, 17," Spoto continued. "His talent wasn't merely derivative of (Marlon) Brando's, as some contend. He was something fresh and extraordinary. What he took from Brando was the public pose of antl-soclal rebellion." Grateful re nonses '.. ' . Spoto said his analysis of Dean and his depiction of the the actor's life in Rebel are eliciting grateful responses from some of Dean's friends and co-stars, Including Julie Harris. Harris, who was interviewed extensively for Rebel, befriended Spoto several years ago. Rebel follows last year's publi cation of another highly regarded biography of the actor, James Dean: The Biography (St. Martin's Press) by Val Holley. It also comes on the heels of books about Dean that have been criticized for inaccuracies or sensationalist tones, inj eluding Paul Alexander's Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1994, Viking Penguin). . Alexander's biography primarily focused on Dean's sexuality. Like Holley's book, Rebel avoids speculation and documents the aspirifig actor's liaisons with women and men; the most significant instance of the latter, according to Spoto:,-was a relationship between Dean and an advertising executive, Rogers Brackett. "People ask me all the tlme I 'Was James Dean straight or gay?' I tell them, 'He wasn't a committed anything. In fact, he was terrified of commitment. "The love of James Dean's life, was his career.' " ; : - Donald Spoto ; Best Sellers FICTION FICTION 1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan (Viking, $23.95) 2. The Tenth Insight, by James Redfield (Warner, $19.95) 3. Moonlight Becomes You, by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $24) 4. Malice, by Danielle Steele (Delacorte, $24.95) 5. The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield (Warner, $17.95) 6. Primary Colors, by Anonymous (Random House, $24) 7. Neanderthal, by John Damton (Random House, $24) 8. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, by Steve Perry (Bantam Spectra, $22.95) 9. The Horse Whisperer, by Nicholas Evans (Delacorte, $23.95) ' 10. Absolute Power, by David Baldacci (Warner, $22.95) NONFICTION 1. Bad as I Wanna Be, by Dennis Rodman with Tim Keown (Delacorte, $22.95) 2. Simple Abundance, by Sara Ban Breathnach (Warner, $17.95) 3. In Contempt, by Christopher A. Darden with Jess Walter (ReganBooks, $26) 4. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray (HarperCollins, $23) 5. The Zone, by Barry Sears and Bill Lawren (HarperCollins, $22) 6. The Dilbert Principle, by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness, $20) I- J?? Seven sPiritual La3 0 Success, by Deepak Chopra (New World Library, $14) 8. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt (Random House, $23) 9. Undaunted Courage, by Stephen E. Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, $20) . 10. Blood Sport, by James B. Stewart (Simon & Schuster, $25) Sources: Publisher's Weekly and Knight-Ridder Newspapers New Releases FICTION The Fourth Estate, by Jeffrey Archer (HarperCollins, $26). The ambitions of a British and an Australian - newspaper publisher clash and both face bankruptcy. Blood of Patriots, by Neil Abercrombie and Richard Hoyt (Forge, $24.95). Congressman and ex-l counterintelligence agent pen a story of a maverick CIA agent investigating who shot up the House of Representatives. Babel Tower, by A.S. Byatt (Random House, $25.95). A woman takes her son to flee an abusive - husband in London in the 1960s. Sacred Dust, by David Hill (Delacorte Press, $22.95). Two women in a small Alabama community confront the murder of a black man. NONFICTION The Sfcing Society, by Robert Bly (Addison-Wesley, $25). The Iron John author argues that Americans have regressed to a perpetual adolescence. Hoopla: A Century of College Basketball, by Peter C. Bjarkman (Masters Press, $22.95). The West Lafayette sports historian celebrates the history of college basketball. Old Soldiers Never Die, by Geoffrey Perret (Random House, $32.50). A biography of Gen. Douglas - MacArthur. Let s Be Heard, by Bob Grant (Pocket Books, $22). The controversial talk-radio host examines , controversial issues. But God Remembered, by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso (Jewish Lights Publishing, $16.95), The Indianapolis rabbi draws together stories of women from Creation to the Promised Land. Author unfazed by criticism of goddess culture By Mary Mazzocco KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWSPAPERS I oosler-born Mary Mackey isn t letting last year's controver-' sy over her work af fect her plans for her next book. "I haven't been 'chilled,' if that's what you're asking," she says with a smile. The furor started when Jon Margolis, a Chicago Tribune columnist, wrote that her novel The Year the Horses Came created an anti-feminist backlash that contributed to the 1994 Republican election sweep. Margolis also wrote that the book represented sloppy thinking. Mackey, who teaches writing and scriptwriting at Sacramento State, can laugh about it now. But she sees it as evidence of a disturbing trend: "If a modest piece of fiction can make people so upset by just rearranging the power structure a little bit, then we're in big trouble in this country." Controversial ideas The Year the Horses Came and its recently released sequel, The Horses at the Gate (HarperSanFranclsco, $16) are based on the ideas of the late archaeologist Marija Glmbu-tas. They're not universally accepted theories, but Gimbu-tas is far from being the flake Margolis suggested. A professor at UCLA who worked on a number of archaeological digs In Eastern Europe, Gimbutas believed the original societies of the continent were peaceful and egalitarian, worshipping the Earth as a goddess. They were conquered about 6,000 years ago by warlike nomad tribes from the steppes, who worshipped a male sky god and brought the domesticated horse to Europe. Mackey's novels imagine what the initial contact between those societies was like. In the first, Marrah, a woman of Old Europe, rescues Stavan, a member of a nomad tribe. Stavan comes to appreciate Marrah's culture, and Marrah begins to realize the danger the nomads pose. Change in culture In the second book, Marrah's people must decide whether they are willing to fight to protect themselves from the invaders. The compromises they make to survive affect their culture. "I tried to configure it so they didn't (compromise)," she says. "But it became clear that, unless they did, they'd be slaughtered like sheep. It's not an alternative, when you have a totally ruthless enemy, to be completely pacifist." Despite Margolis' criticism, Mackey doesn't see herself as a male-basher. The books are "a re-creation of a whole world in which the relations between the sexes are more harmonious, in which women have more power, but it's not a turning of the tables, where one sex dominates the other," she says. "It's also a look at a society that didn't have organized warfare for, who knows, maybe 20,000 years. "That's not to say that nobody was ill-tempered, that there were no murders, that there was no violence. There are just no signs of the kind of massive, genocidal sort of warfare that you get once the f i i ; f ? i Mary Mackey horse is reintroduced into Europe." Mackey, 50, has long been interested in giving ancient history a fictional twist. But her career took a detour after Putnam published her first novel, The Last Warrior Queen, In 1983. That was a retelling of the Sumerian legend of the goddess Inanna, Inspired by Mary Renault's books that imagined the human stories behind Greek myths. The problem was, there wasn't a lot of talk about goddess-oriented religions or feminist history at the time, outside of a few universities that had women's studies departments. "The book ot categorized as a science fiction-fantasy novel," Mackey says. "The people who would have wanted to read it couldn't find It, and the people who thought it was a fantasy said, 'What? This has got poetry in It?' Because it was a serious, scholarly work, you know." A plan for a trilogy got I " quickly scrapped. ,; "It was just clear to me from the way it had gone that it was a dead end," she said. Instead, Mackey spent several years writing workmanlike, conventional "women's" novels, Including A Grand Passion, the story of a family of Russian ballet dancers, and The Ktndness of Strangers, about three generations of actresses. Their success gave her a certain amount of artistic freedom. Filling in the details " i Then came her discovery of Gimbutas' work, followed0t)y trips to as many of the European prehistoric sites as " Mackey could safely visit. Gimbutas, who read and, enjoyed The Horses at the Gate, advised Mackey on some of the details. ; ' In a few areas, however, Gimbutas refused to help! "J asked her to speculate on things, like what was their religion like, what was their song like, what were their;, sexual customs. She said 'I am a scholar. I don't speculate. That's your job. Yotffe the writer, you do the poetic part.'" Mary Mazzocco is the books -editor of the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times. I I J

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