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Love, patriotism, moviemaking and the influence of popular culture on religion during WWII. Spirituality in Hollywood when the stars were bright. An idealistic farm girl from Oregon follows her boyfriend to Los Angeles and copes with challenges of both family and career when he goes to war. A young man from Ohio loses his first love while rising from gas pump attendant to movie director at the Fox studio through his relationships with actresses, in particular star Bette Davis. His work includes a comical biopic of theologian Jonathan Edwards and adaptations of classics--Wieland, Modern Chivalry and "Rappaccini's Daughter." His adventures take him to a brothel of imitation stars and to an orgy hosted by horror actor Lionel Atwill. Hollywood parties reflect the decadence of Europe while American lives converge to an inspirational ending. Stars in uniform appear at a huge reception to honor troops as the nation rallies after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the horrific battle of Tarawa, evoking a spirit of personal sacrifice, a time when Americans felt more united as a nation than at any time since. First in a trilogy about Hollywood social history, to include Follywood (2004) and Hollyworld (2005).
Fay talked and laughed with the producer between records, touching his arm and looking up to him as he leaned closer and whispered like kissing her ear. Several of the dancers who had not yet had a turn gave up and straggled out with their escorts. By the start of Kasch's third waltz with Fay, all the other guests had left. Eisley slouched alone with his drink at the far end of the living room, sullen and nauseous with outrage, watching his wife being twirled. Kasch steered her with ease. On one turn Fay looked over his shoulder as she swept around and made a face to Eisley that said, What else can I do? Turning her round and round, Kasch let his hand slip down from the small of her back to her left buttock. Eisley stood up. The Mexican bartender stepped out from behind the bar with a long black club. Eisley took a walk. He stepped outside onto the balcony into fresh air sweetened by flowers. With a trembling hand, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes from inside his white dinner jacket. Below him city lights sprinkled over a vast blackness had a feverish look of twinkling colors, lovely and illusionary. He had to be patient. Kasch would finish this dance and let her go and they could get the hell out of here. When the waltz ended, in the quiet he took a drag from his cigarette, stared at the city lights and waited. "Ryan?" Fay called behind him. They stood in the doorway, two figures backlit. "This is my husband, Ryan Eisley." Kasch sounded nonchalant, "You don't mind if I show your wife the upstairs, do ya, Eisley?" "Thanks," Eisley snapped. "I'd like to see the upstairs." "It's all right, Ryan," her eyes unclear in the dark. Kasch pulled her away out of sight. The lit doorway framed a tapestry on an inside wall depicting a blocky pyramid, one of those temples where up the stairs they performed human sacrifice. Eisley smoked his cigarette as if quickly would make a difference. Then he shook up another. He paced back and forth along the balcony, murmuring curses at the city. He would get Kasch. He would jump up and down on his face. He flung away the butt and went striding into the room toward the staircase. The Mexican bartender came around and stepped into his way, pointing a revolver at him. He sounded apologetic, as though saying he had no banana for a daiquiri. "No, Señor." Eisley stood there staring back at the bartender. He felt more sober than he had in hours, realizing that he could be cast as a violent drunk or be mistaken for an intruder who came in over the balcony. He stood in place glaring hatred at the bartender. With a shaking hand he lit another cigarette. He tossed the match on the Persian rug. The bartender slipped the revolver back out of sight under his white serving jacket as if to preserve the illusion of decorum. Eisley stood there smoking and thought of the emperor Caligula raping wives in front of their husbands.
Michael Hollister was born in Los Angeles, served in the U.S. Army, graduated from the University of Oregon and taught fiction writing at Stanford while earning a Ph.D. As a boy, when his father worked in the movie business, his neighbors in the San Fernando Valley included Clark Gable, John Huston and Andy Devine. Subsequently he worked as a sketch artist, intelligence agent and professor of American literature. He is the father of three and lives with his wife Judy and two west highland terriers in Brookings, Oregon. He has published over thirty stories and articles in periodicals including Paris Transcontinental, The Gettysburg Review, North Atlantic Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, The Bloomsbury Review and Studies in the Novel.
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