Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

"The Game Show": An Excerpt from Booming: A Millennial Memoir

Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

"The Game Show": An Excerpt from Booming: A Millennial Memoir

Article excerpt

What follows is excerpted from Chapter 6 of Alice Jardine's unpublished novel, BOOMING: A Millennial Memoir. (A synopsis of the entire novel appears below.) In this chapter, entitled "The Game Show," the main character, Baby, meets up with a gang of notorious "honorary blondes," all with a special relationship to the American 1950s: Anne Sexton, Anne Parsons, and Sylvia Plath, but also Jean Harlow, Madonna, Betty Page, and Jayne Mansfield. These extraordinary women have banded together within the virtual space of BOOMING to stage a 1950s-style game show. Their goal? They want to help Marilyn Monroe (the ultimate 1950s blonde) better understand why she had to die when and how she did.

BOOMING: ASYNOPSIS

Baby's Daddy died shortly after her birth in 1951. Mom thinks he was murdered. It's Baby's job to use her capacity for Booming1 in order to figure out who killed him.

Baby's Daddy worked at Los Alamos after the war, but not on the bomb. No, his was an even more secret project known as EPPAP: The Eugenics Project for a Post-Apocalyptic Planet. This early bio-genetics project was ostensibly funded by the World Health Organization, but secretly by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Mom thinks that Daddy was killed because of his work on viral cloning and DNA. Baby's not so sure. What she does know is that there are shadowy forces still searching for her Daddy's experiment write-ups. And these forces seem to think she has them. She also knows that her own lack of a belly button and her Mom's total dependence on TV in order to communicate are just plain weird and somehow intrinsically connected to her Daddy's death.

Baby's quest to find out how and why her Daddy died leads her to the unsettling discovery that not only is her Daddy dead, but so is DADDY-the concept, the body, the purpose, the institution. She learns that his death has affected the Baby-Boom generation in ways that are not yet entirely understood. What is clear is that, for Baby-Boomers, the death of Daddy-The-Body has led to physical regression; the death of Daddy-The-Warrior to profound fearfulness; the death of Daddy-TheProvider to deep unhappiness; the death of Daddy-The-Hero to rampant paranoia; the death of Daddy-The-Husband to romantic cynicism; the death of Daddy-The-Lover to sexual dystopia; the death of Daddy-The-White-Master to ever more insidious forms of racism.

As Baby explores these historical consequences of the Father's demise, her travels take her from Paris, through Bangkok, to Serowe, Alexanderplatz, and Palm Springs. Slowly, Baby begins to put together the pieces of an exorbitant plot too horrific to believe. She learns of the project "Mr. Magico" and is terrified by its really bad guys (Roy Cohn, Desi Arnaz, Howard Hughes). She is also moved by the stories of the really good guys (Bobby Kennedy, Julius Rosenberg). She begins to put together the puzzle connecting EPPAP, the CIA, and of course DESILU. And as she listens to Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Ethel Rosenberg; to Ann Parsons, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath; to Dian Fossey, Joy Adamson, and Jane Goodall; to Winnie Mandela, Lorraine Hansbury, Billie Holiday, and Bessie Head-Baby finally begins to hear ... and to understand the incommensurate horror of Daddy's Death.

And, ultimately, at the huge Elvis Resurrection Concert held in Honolulu on the eve of the New Millennium, Baby sees the truth: it is she who murdered her Father. Not that Baby had any intention oi killing him. But she's indisputably the murderer nonetheless. And now an entire generation-indeed, an entire civilization-has to pay for her crime ...

THE GAME SHOW

Sylvia Plath: ATTENTION!! ATTENTION!! OUR FIRST CONTESTANT IS MR. PHILIP WYLIE, AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING BOOK, GENERATION OF VIPERS, AND PRIMARY INVENTOR OF THE TERM "MOMISM."

Welcome Mr. Wylie. Now don't be nervous. Please have a seat right over here. Anne Sexton?

Anne S: Hello Mr. …

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