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The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl Kindle Edition
|Length: 409 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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1950s, and into the insanely hectic world of live television. I say 'attempt', because the novel doesn't always avoid anachronisms---too many modern idioms make their way into the narrative. It may have been the fault of a younger, slightly careless editor who hadn't read enough
period literature to spot anachronisms.
But that's a pretty minor quibble, given the wonderful, often outrageous tale which author Stone spins for us. And he's clearly researched the period very carefully----blacklisting, Cold War paranoia, upper-class anti-Semitism, and the unexpected impact of live TV on that first generation of viewers, all are used to telling effect in this fast, frequently funny (and sometimes hilarious) narrative. We also see the public's fear of Communism being carefully cultivated by the politically ambitious. If you can't read modern anti-Islamic paranoia into THAT plot-line, try harder.
Justice Girl herself begins life in an impromptu addition to a Sunday-night comedy show on the struggling Regal Network, added at the last minute by writer Jonny Dirby. He's just been fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath, and decides to have a little revenge. So, after taking a baseball bat to an annoying ceiling fan in the network's decrepit Writer's Room, Jonny drastically alters a discarded comedy sketch which includes a caped, costumed heroine. He reckons that since he's already unemployed (and about to be blacklisted), he can use his newly-free time to do the serious writing which he's had to neglect in favor of live-TV sketch comedy. He inserts the new sketch into the lineup, leaves the network's ramshackle offices, and assumes he's burned his bridges gloriously.
The next morning, Jonny finds that his plan has backfired. Instead of being outraged, network president Hogart Daniels, who watched the show, saw its' impact on viewers. Justice Girl could be the gimmick which saves the network, and he's gonna exploit this Heaven-sent fluke for all it's worth. Jonny, far from being unemployed, now has a new job, a dream contract, a GREAT salary...and a complete new show to create in a week's time. Which he does, using a sub rosa writing team of blacklisted friends. JUSTICE GIRL, played by an ingenue named Denise Yarnell, quickly becomes a media sensation. All is glorious...to the outside observer.
Behind the scenes, it's a very different story. 'Denise Yarnell' is the stage name taken by Felicity Anders Kensington, daughter of a right-wing Republican (once upon a time there USED to be other kinds) and potential Senate candidate. Felicity wants to infiltrate the seamy world of show business and gather evidence of Communist influence, all the better to help her adored father's political career. (She in fact has another, unacknowledged motive for seeking evidence that anything remotely 'Red' is evil...one of the novel's unexpected depths.) In costume and wig, she prays that none of her blue-blooded Connecticut family or social connections will recognize her, despite their collective disdain for the new medium of television.
Jonny, in the meantime, is reveling in being a new producer and writer (given sole credit for scripts, despite the fact that he's a 'front' for several friends). The show's publicity prominently features Jonny, and fast becomes a sore point with his behind-the-scenes collaborators for utterly if necessarily ignoring their contributions. And Jonny's relations with network president Daniels deteriorate as the show's popularity and its attendant pressures escalate. By a scheduling fluke JUSTICE GIRL is pre-empted one week owing to a major news story...and Jonny uses the time off to attend a supermarket opening where 'Denise' (aka Felicity) has to face a live audience in her on-air persona. The
event turns into a near-riot, with Jonny appearing just in time to help Felicity escape from a mob of screaming kids. Felicity admits to him who she really is, but not why she's really playing the role. She's discovered that her father is part of a blacklisting organization, and is appalled to realize how thin the evidence of any wrongdoing is on the part of people whom she's coming to know, and to like. And it goes on from there.
Whatever else author Stone may have on offer as a novelist, he's produced an enjoyable read with this first book. Highly recommended.
I gave up after the first few chapters, especially after noting how much more there was to read in this ebook. Wow, this is a long book and hard to imagine keeping anyone's attention that long, based on my own reading experience.
I had a giggle or two reading for the time that I did but not worth it to continue to the end of this story.
Deleted from my kindle already.
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Turned out to be that and much more. This is a NOVEL.Read more