Excerpt from White Houses by Amy Bloom, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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White Houses

by Amy Bloom

White Houses by Amy Bloom X
White Houses by Amy Bloom
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2018, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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Print Excerpt

Chapter 1
Luck Is Not Chance

In 1932, my father was dead and my star was rising. I could write. People looked for my name. I'd gotten a big bounce from The Milwaukee Sentinel to New York because I was the only woman to cover Big Ten football playoffs and the excellent Smith scandal (idiot corset salesman and buxom mistress cut off the head of her husband and hide it in the bathtub). I had hit it hard in Brooklyn, at the Daily Mirror and moved on to the Associated Press. I had a small apartment, with a palm-­sized window and a bathroom down the hall. I owned one frying pan, two plates, and two coffee mugs. My friends were newspapermen, my girlfriends were often copy editors (very sharp, very sweet), and I was what they called a newspaperwoman. They ran my bylines and everyone knew I didn't do weddings. It was good.

The men bought me drinks and every night I bought a round before I went home. They talked about their wives and mistresses in front of me and I didn't blink. I didn't wrinkle my nose. I sympathized. When the wives were on the rag, when the girlfriend had a bun in the oven, when the door was locked, I said it was a damn shame. I sipped my Scotch. I kept my chin up and my eyes friendly. I didn't tell the guys that I was no different, that I'd sooner bed a dozen wrong girls and wake up in a dozen hot-­sheet joints, minus my wallet and plus a few scratches, than be tied down to one woman and a couple of brats. I pretended that even though I hadn't found the right man, I did want one. I pretended that I envied their wives and that took effort.

(I never envied a wife or a husband, until I met Eleanor. Then, I would have traded everything I ever had, every limo ride, every skinny-­dip, every byline and carefree stroll, for what Franklin had, polio and all.)

It was a perfect night to be in a Brooklyn bar, waiting for the snow to fall. I signaled for another beer and a young man, from the city desk, stout and red-­faced like me, brought it over and said, "Hick, is your dad Addison Hickok? I remember you were from South Dakota."

I said, Yes, that was me, and that was my old man.

I'm sorry, he said, I hear he killed himself. It came over the wire, there was a rash of Dust Bowl suicides. Traveling salesman, right? I'm sorry.

Don't you worry, I said. I couldn't say, Drinks all around, because my father's dead and I am not just glad, I am goddamn glad. No man drinks to a woman saying that. I left two bits under my glass and made my way home, to find a letter from Miz Min, my father's second wife, asking if I might send money for the burial expenses. I lit the envelope with my cigarette and I went to New Jersey.

I was the Associated Press's top dog for the Lindbergh kidnapping. We were all racing to tell the story and the Daily News got there first, with an enormous, grainy photo of the baby and the headline "Lindy's Baby Kidnaped," which was clear and short, and the Times's "Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped from Home of Parents on Farm Near Princeton" was more exact but not first. They avoided vulgar familiarity but really, who cares whether the baby's taken from a farm or a ranch or a clover patch.

(The Daily News, March 2, 1932.)

The most famous baby in the world, Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., was kidnaped from his crib on the first floor of the Lone Eagle's home at Hopewell, N.J., between 7:30 and 10:30 o'clock last night.

The flier's wife, the former Anne Morrow, discovered at 10:30 that her 20-­months-­old son was missing. Her mother, Mrs. Dwight W. Morrow, who disclosed that Mrs. Lindbergh is expecting another baby, feared that the shock might have serious effect.

Anne immediately called Col. Lindbergh, who was in the living room. The famous flier, thinking that the nurse might have removed the child, paused to investigate before telephoning the State police.

Excerpted from White Houses by Amy Bloom. Copyright © 2018 by Amy Bloom. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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