Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hollywood Buzz by Margit Lewis *

When a famous director lifts Pucci Lewis's chin to examine her profile, she shoves his hand away, but when Hollywood Buzz author Margit Liesche manipulates her as a crude prop through a history of the WASPs in WWII, she distracts herself examining male physiques being "struck once more by ... strong and handsome features."

Hollywood Buzz has all the makings of a wonderful historical mystery. Pucci Lewis is a pilot, with an FBI recommendation as an "ace operative," and has feminist sensibilities everyone like to imagine were rampant during WWII. The plot includes a mystery murder attempt on a WASP pilot who survives in a coma, and subplots to manipulate the male Hollywood establishment to show the WASP pilots in a more "professional" way, not:
"The camera angle dropped and focused on the backside of an inductee whose strut emphasized the rhythmic bouncing of her parachute bustle."
As embarrassing as this might have been to Pucci as the only woman in the audience, her response is measured and technical. In this mechanical way, Pucci is marched through the book, showing little emotion other than her careful examination of each male character (and there are many).

The consolation is the author's extensive research. Walt Disney designed the Fifinella patch for the WASPs. WASP pilots carried B-4 bags, and were issued .45s when they flew, but had to turn them in as soon as they landed. The book includes a biography of Jackie Cochran, The First Lady in Flight, and a history of the FMPU, First Motion Picture Unit, along with extensive dropping of actor, actress, and movie names.

If you're interested in the history, this is the book for you, but if you're looking for someone to care about, Pucci Lewis, the mechanically feminist spy, will disappoint.

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