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Thursday, February 21, 1980
Dynamic and descriptive,
'Daisy' is far from docile.
By ANNETTE WILKERSON
Although Princess Daisy is a
misleadingly sedate title, Judith
Krantz's latest sizzles in the tradition of
her previous novel, Scruples. A
breathless tour of bedrooms,
boardrooms and ballrooms, Princess
Daisy has all the elements of a best
seller. It's pure trash and it's
impossible to put down.
Princess Daisy Valensky, the novel's
namesake and the story's bedrock, is a
grand-style heroine. Not only is she a
real live princess, she's gorgeous,
talented and witty to boot. To add a
dollop of depth, Daisy has character
an unerring instinct for doing right,
whether it's a question of morality or
fashion. (And, since this is a Krantz
novel, fashion is of utmost
The novel emcompasses three
generations of love stories. The first
two the wedded bliss of her royal
Russian grandparents and her parents'
star-crossed affair are incidental to
Daisy's tale, but taken together they
pack more of a romantic punch than
one lifetime possibly could provide.
As the child of a stunning American
actress who gave up her career for
passion and an authentic Russian
prince, who has $20 million, Daisy
doesn't have the easiest of lives. But
she does have a romantic past.
Daisy rides a roller coaster of riches
throughout the novel,
metamorphosing from have to have
not some four times in the story. The
pampered-princess intervals permit us
entry to the world of blue-blooded
gentry, while the have-not jags get us
into the world of advertising and big
Daisy works in a high-powered New
York ad agency when she's down tyi
her financial luck. Rather than turn to
her wicked half-brother, Ram, for
help, she strikes out on her own. No
spoiled royalty here.
Pricess Daisy is peopled with
unequivocably black and white
characterizations caricatures, really.
Bastions of .goodness, intellect and
honor are pitted against morally and
mentally vacuous, malicious types.
Daisy, who has a number of
"character-building" burdens to bear,
is the Snow White person. Evil
characters are foils for her goodness,
and the novel provides her many an
opportunity to shine.
Since there only . is one male
character who can match Daisy in
terms of integrity, it's not difficult to
guess where her romance will develop.
He is also a self-made multimillionaire,
a prerequisite for the Krantz hero.
You might say the characters lack
subtlety and sophistication. But they
serve their purpose: They get into
those boardrooms and bedrooms
you're dying to find out about.
Whispers of romance quickly turn to
shrieking sex in Daisy's world. Krantz is
not the kind of author to discreetly
close the bedroom door in her reader's
face. The novel's sideline characters
supplement the main actors by
indulging in countless romantic trysts.
Krantz is as adept as describing a lush
setting as she is at providing the
steaming details of her characters'
sexual encounters. With the precision
of a movie prop-man, she graphically
arranges and describes every scene in
terms of decor and attire. Just in case
the reader isn't polished enough to
recognize the labels being tossed
about, Krantz explains their
significance, setting standards for what
is gauche and what is de rigueur in
such high places. Characters are
def ined in terms of their grasp on what
is in vogue.
Whatever Krantz may lack in
sophisticated writing style and
characterization (and she lacks plenty),
she makes up for with inside
information and the sheer audacity of
her story. Princess Daisy's appeal is
straight fantasy coupled with
voyeurism. We're like peeping toms
looking in on a never-never land of
royalty, riches and ribald sex. And it's
that dirty dose of insider's gossip that
makes reading it such a pleasure. 0
Annette Wilkerson is a book critic
for The Daily Tar Heel.
Simplistic ending flaws the fantasy of 'Hidalgo's Beard'
By MICHAEL WADE
J-Jl idalgo's Beard, Conger Beasley Jr.'s first novel, is an
" " imaginative modern-day fantasy that makes an
ambitious attempt to combine the themes of escapism
and initiation in a strange journey through the mind of
27-year-old Navvy Dypes, its main character. The book
cheats at the end, since the psychological and social
conflicts it deals with seemingly are forgotten. But the
fertile imagination Beasley weaves into so much of the
146-page book nearly saves it, and makes some of Navvy's
adventures refreshingly entertaining.
Navvy has decided to escape from the Palm Springs
society in which he finds himself trapped by living at the
bottom of a swimming pool. He begins to take on the
physical characteristics of an underwater creature,
including green skin and even the beginnings of gills at
his throat. His country club-set father and a doctor
acquaintance both interpret the changes taking place in
Navvy as a physical or psychological ailment rather than
an act of will, as Navvy calls his new condition, and make
plans to put him in the hospital. But an old woman named
Hetty who has the same "condition" befriends Navvy and
tells him to go down the coast to Ensenada, where he is to
look for a message hidden in the beard of a great bust of
Mexican hero Miguel Hidalgo. The message, Hetty tells
Navvy, will enable him to communicate with all creatures
and thus give him the power to overcome his father.
Navvy doesn't realize as his guide sends him on the
quest that his initiation into the world he has only
glimpsed before from the swimming pool will take him
through such an incredible odyssey. During the fantasy
journey, Navvy rides through a huge forest fire with a
daring Archie Bunker-like oil truck driver; learns about
an Indian tribe that lives beneath the desert from an old
woman who gives him an abalone-shell whistle which
later proves its special powers; flies to the coast with a
mysterious suicidal pilot in a glider filled with chickens
and an array of interesting passengers; meets a third old
woman who gives him further hints of the great secret he
seeks; meets a well-known director of sex films who
contracts with him to film his encounter with Hidalgo's
beard; learns another clue to the secret he seeks from a
prostitute in Ensenada.
The surrealistic fantasy becomes even more strange at
his destination. Navvy learns that the giant bust of
Hidalgo is one of three in the city and that because of a
peculiar, deadly characteristic of the three busts, he will
have only one 10-minute period to get his message from
The book's ending is a complete disappointment;
Navvy simply wakes up at the bottom of the swimming
pool, without the knowledge he sought so hard and
apparently with no use for what he learned in his
psychological oddysey. It seems that Beasley simply got
done with exercising his vivid imagination and decided
to end the book in the most meaningless way possible.
The symbolic statements about the human condition and
the state of society leave the reader rather empty because
Navvy is not allowed to cope with what he has learned
nor can we be certain that there was ever anything he
could have escaped to.
The novel does deal with the escapism theme in a
unique way. The role of mature women as Navvy's guides
is unique and significant particularly since he gradually
discovers a mysterious power- from a sound that is
physically part of the womb, the starting place for life and
all its secrets. Other sounds that are clues to the secret
knowledge are beautifully described; in the pool; Navvy
listens to "the ultimate reaches of the universe, a most
terrifying sound, a non-sound, the echoless din of a black
hole, no bigger than a gumdrop, a spot of concentrated
malevolence continually devouring itself .which
moves through the universe' like a murderous shark,
gobbling everything in its path."
Beasley's writing at times is brutally powerful and the
imagery in his first book usually is original. He describes
communities he sees" during the flight on the glider:
"Curling out from the Interstate in ugly brown cankers
were developments and bedroom communities, whorls
and tentacles of featureless housing, geometrically exact
but inadequately spaced, an unchecked spillover from
the urban centers fifty miles away, oozing like dirty
sludge into unspoiled valleys and secret canyons."
Beasley, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in
comparative literature, at times irritates the reader
because he seems to overwrite some passages for no
apparent purpose except intellectual exercise. But the
writing is refreshing even with Its occasional lack of
restraint, and for this reason the fantasy is worthwhile
even though the book fails thematically. 0
Michael Wade is associate editor for The Dairy Tar HeL
Inside Track the Ramones' End Of The Century at
11 p.m. tonight on WXYC-FM 89.3 ,
Classic Album Feature Dan Fogelberg's Souvenirs
at 11 p.m. Friday on WXYC-FM 89.3
You Can't Take It With You With James Stewart. At
8 p.m. today in Carroll Hall. Free with UNC student ID.
An Unmarried Woman With Jill Clayburgh. At 7,
9: 30 and midnight Friday in Carroll Hall. Admission $1.
Mean Streets Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorcese's
stunning film about low-life mobsters. At 7 and 9:30
p.rftSaturday in Carroll Hall. Free with UNC student
Same Time Next Year With Ellen Burstyn and Alan
Alda. At 7 and 9:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Page
Auditorium on the Duke University campus.
Varsity Cruisirr. At 3:15, 5:15 and 9:15 p.m.
Varsity Lateshow The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
At midnight Friday and Saturday.
Plaza I The Electric Horseman. At 2:30, 4:50, 7:10
and 9:30 p.m.
Plaza III Apocalypse Now. At 2, 5 and 8 p.m.
Carolina Blue foollrr Around. Final shows today
at 5:45, 7:35 and 9:30 p.m. Chapter Two starts Friday.
Shows at 2:45, 5, 7:15 and 9:30 p.m.
Carolina White Kramer vs. Kramer. At 7:05 and
Carolina Classics The Thin Man. Final shows today
at 2:15 and 4 p.m. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
starts Friday. Shows at 3 and 5 p.m.
Carolina Lateshows Happy Birthday, Wanda June
at 11:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Russians Are
Coming, The Russians Are Coming at 11:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday.
In Focus Featured artists are: Jethro Tull and Lou
Reed today; Pink Floyd and Roy Buchanan Friday.
Aired from 6-11 p.m. both days on WDBS-FM 107.
Recital Wayne Layle, baritone, and Michael
Ching, piano, at 8:15 p.m. today in the East Duke
Music Room on the Due University campus
Duke University Wind Symphony Viennese Batt
At 8:15 p.m. Friday in the Durham Civic Center.
Doc Watson With Uncle Walt's Band at 8 p.m.
Saturday in Memorial Hall.
UNC Jazz Band At 8 p.m. Sunday in Hill Hall
Recital John Hanks, tenor, Julie Hull, soprano, and
Jane Hawkins, piano. At 8:15 p.m. Sunday in the East
Duke Music Room on the Duke University campus.
The Planet Seekers A science fiction show about
aliens scrutinizing the planets in our solar system. At 8
p.m. today and Friday; at 1, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and
at 2, 3 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
Othello UNC Ptaymaker's Repertory Theatre
presents Shakespeare's tragedy today through March
2. At 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and at 2 and 8
p.m. Sundays in the Paul Creen Theatre. Call 933-1121
Mark Twain Tonight Hal Holbrook in a one-man
show at 8 p.m. Sunday in Memorial Hall.
Steambath The Durham Theatre Guild presents
Bruce Jay Friedman's comedy at 8 p.m. Friday and
Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. In the Durham Am Council
Building, 120 Morris St. For reservations call 682-5519.
The House of Hue Leaves The Art School Gallery
Theatre presents Linda Wright's drama at 8 p.m. Friday
through Sunday in the Callery Theatre in Carr M.tl
Mall. Call 942-2041 for reservations.
Aciland Art Museum ft ecenr Art from Chtago
today through March 9.
Morehead Planetarium Gallery pftotognph
fcnjges of" the Seventies by Ron Kovacs through Feb.
Horace WSiamt House Works by 30 air a
sculptors today through Feb. 29.