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Kelly Cherry, 32, grappled with her typewriter for three years before completing her just published first novel Sick and Full of Burning. Something of an exorcism of Kelly’s own experience in New York, the story is about a young woman medical student who becomes a tutor to the handicapped child of a neurotic, pill-popping Park Avenue widow. But its real subject is the liberation of the confused young tutor, which is explored with humor and perception. Critics are finding Kelly Cherry’s book “mischievously funny,” “deft,” “convincing” and “bright, sassy, sad and with talent, well, to burn.”

Talent to burn seems to run in the Cherry family of Richmond, Virginia. Both Kelly’s parents are violinists, and her mother also is writing a guide to living in England. Her brother is at work on a new novel. Her sister is a concert flutist. Kelly’s poetry and short stories—published while she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of North Carolina—had been well received, but she abandoned her career during what she calls the “lost time” of her failed five-year marriage. “That’s what I’m trying to redeem,” she explains, now hard at work on her second novel. Its subject? Kelly answers instantly, “Marriage and free will.”

Philip Glass was not displeased to overhear his music described as “Buddha Rock” by a listener at his concert in New York’s Town Hall last month. For four hours the audience heard two electric organs (Glass played one), three woodwinds and a female vocalist perform Music In 12 Parts, on which the composer had worked for three years. Highly amplified, its repetitive rhythmic patterns and subtle changes of color and tone delighted most of the audience. New York Times music critic John Rockwell says of Glass, “His is one of the few kinds of new American music people really love.”

When he was 29 and traveling in the Orient, Phil Glass met India’s great musician Ravi Shankar, who asked him to arrange some Indian music for a film. “The experience shook up my musical life and concepts,” remembers Glass, now 37, whose musical education until then had been traditional and Western: flute and piano as a boy in Baltimore before entering the University of Chicago at 15, studies in composition at New York’s Juilliard, then a period under the tutorship of the renowned Nadia Boulanger in France. After his Indian experience—he has since become a Buddhist and vegetarian—Glass returned to New York to work in new musical forms, taking jobs as a cab driver, furniture maker and plumber to help support his wife, actress JoAnne Aklaitis, and their two small children. This year he will perform at several major music festivals in the U.S. and Europe. Phil Glass says that he is unsure of his artistic future, “but at least it won’t be back to plumbing.”