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new order of art. He is the artist who acts when there is no occasion for it, "nothing to paint and nothing to paint with." Other selections include an excerpt from Beckett's first novel, a literary hoax, and the 1937 play fragment, Human Wishes. Letters Beckett has written about his own work include extracts from letters to director Alan Schneider about Endgame. Although the collection is not arranged chronologically, the foreword and the notes provide at least approximate dates. It is well worth reading for insights into literary history as well as Beckett's development as a writer. The young Beckett clearly loves to write. The overall impression of the book is an infectious pleasure of honing thought with language. That the thought is excellent makes reading it a treat. Laurie Lassiter United States Laurie Anderson Harper & Row, 232 pp.; $19.95 (paper) "I see myself as part of a long tradition of American humor. You know-Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Roadrunner, Yosemite Sam," explains Laurie Anderson in United States. Her book, the basis of her 1983 performance of the piece at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has a scrapbook feel to it-lots of photos accompanied by stories, songs, dialogues, information, dreams and wordplay-rather than being a formal performance text striving to recapture the purity of the event. Her humor is indeed cartoony, stand-up comedy, filled with allusions to art, science, landscape, animals, and all kinds of odd-ball bits of informationAnderson is wonderful as a humorist. Not surprisingly, the imagery in the work grows out of popular American iconography: cars, telephones, airplanes, skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, all given a quasi-poetic content . Since United States is high-tech performance, Anderson's "Dance of Electricity (For Nikola Tesla)," and "Three Songs for Paper, Film and Video" are right at home with the contact microphone attached to her glasses, and her state-of-the-art sound system. Yet, she retains a warm, affectionate rapport with an audience, oblivious to any modernist pretentiousness or condescension . But, on stage United States was a lot more fun than it is in book form because Anderson is a solo performer of charm and genuine wit, a kind of diminutive Prospero waving her magic, lighted bow in the darkness, outlining the disparities of urban and country life. Ultimately, though, the text of the performance wears thin because it is only information, not knowledge; the performance itself eventually grew tired straining toward theatre while still grounded in the thinness of art-world aesthetics. Yet, at times Anderson seems on the verge of helping to create a new form of performance, in 117 fact the first example of music being the basis of avant-garde performance that is not formally opera. Obviously, Anderson wanted to make an art book out of United States, and in that she succeeded. It could even be a catalogue for an exhibit. In the long run, however, she may be unwittingly cheating her audience out of a text which honors the performance aspects of her work as much the visual ones. The design of this book conceptually limits the full performance expression of United States. Like the piece itself it seems not to want to be theatre, even tries to hide its scripted factuaiity. Her message seems oddly distant in the medium she has chosen, its realness having been turned into Art. Bonnie Marranca 118 ...


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pp. 117-118
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