Tales of the Tinkertoy by JJ Semple

Tales of the Tinkertoy is three books in one: a coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a consummate tale of redemption.

Suspenseful, confrontational, fast-paced, Tales of the Tinkertoy is a behind-the-scenes peek into network television during the nineteen sixties. It follows the extraordinary career of Gus Mazur who, as he reaches the pinnacle of success at WBN, becomes entangled in the disappearance of his girlfriend’s sister.

It is a time of liberation when women in all walks of life assert themselves. No more so than in television. It’s against a backdrop of war, a struggle for civil rights, and women’s liberation that Gus’s encounters with three exceptional ladies lead to a greater self-awareness:
Joanna/Vicki: Gus’s first love whose dedication to her career as an economist dictates a relationship based on yearning and remembrance as they pass through each other’s lives—on-again, off-again.
Lil: A gentle Chinese-American who keeps Gus real in the face of the compromises he’s forced to make and the commercialism that pervades the television industry. After Gus is waylaid in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention, she’s instrumental in helping him piece his life back together.
Skipper/Miriam: A dedicated third-grade teacher and exceptional athlete—Gus’s bi-sexual lover, who by exposure to Gus’s work, imagines herself an anchorwoman—a dream come true when she becomes the first woman to shatter television’s glass ceiling.

Skipper’s popularity takes WBN’s management by surprise. She seems to embody the pent-up hopes of thousands of women long denied access to jobs such as hers. As she receives more and more mail from adoring fans, she begins to believe in her infallibility. To encourage this cult of personality Noah Goodstein, the manipulative, conniving president of WBN, surrounds her with sycophants and toadies.

The lives of all the main characters begin to unravel when Skipper refuses to answer questions about her sister’s disappearance. Her career threatened, she turns to Goodstein who will go to any lengths to protect the network’s popular anchorwoman, provided Skipper agrees to marry him, a surefire way, he believes, of binding his most precious asset to the network.

He’s counting on her popularity to pay for the losses incurred under his management at the News Division, which puts him at loggerheads with Gus who wants to preserve the objectivity of the News. And yet…despite Goodstein’s clout with the authorities and Skipper’s popularity, the police decide to look into her sister’s whereabouts.


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