Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Lost Flight of Amelia Earhart A Novel Based on Historical Evidence by Carol Linn Dow

Fascinating though the subject matter is, this book strikes me as the literary equivalent of a multiple personalities case. Although the book is subtitled "A Novel Based on Historical Evidence," well...let's just say this does not read like a traditional novel. Some pages read like encyclopedia entries or a school report on Amelia Earhart. Other pages dramatize or fictionalize incidents, such as Amelia and Fred Noonan in the cockpit of the doomed Electra or imprisoned and subjected to brutal treatment by the Japanese, or a group of reporters discussing the mystery over Chinese food in a restaurant conveniently run by a supposed witness to their capture. Then there are pages that read like an article from a scientific magazine about radio frequencies and technology of the era. There are also several photos, footnotes, and over 100 pages of supportive notes and evidence in back. When dramatized scenes do appear, awkwardly plunked down between these lengthy factual sections, the dialogue is written in a very minimalistic style, more suitable to a playscript than a novel.

(Major) Moto, "You spy! You Amelican (American) spy. You spy for Navy. You fly over islands to spy on Japanese."
Earhart, "No, no I'm not a spy."

Descriptions between dialogue are sparse and kept to a minimum, like notations to set the scene in a play or movie. Perhaps this has to do with the author's plans to make a movie and this novel was born of a pre-existing screenplay?

I was eager to read this book and wanted to enjoy it, but regrettably its choppy, distracting style proved an insurmountable barrier, and there is nothing new or groundbreaking about Earhart's fate to help overcome this. The Japanese capture theory has been around for a long time and explored and depicted with greater depth and drama elsewhere.

If Ms. Dow's book is indeed made into a movie, I am sure it will be quite interesting to watch, but as a novel I am sorry to say it leaves much to be desired. But I commend the thoroughness of her research and dedication to the project and finding a solution to one of America's most enduring and famous unsolved mysteries.

1 comment:

wytchcroft said...

it's just dreadful.