15.21 Renée Rosen White Collar Girl: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780451474971

White Collar Girl: A Novel

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9780451474971: White Collar Girl: A Novel

The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition...

Every second of every day, something is happening. There’s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it’s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column.

Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley’s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan’s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there’s no guarantee she’ll remain above the fold....

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About the Author:

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of What the Lady Wants, Dollface, and the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One


Chicago 1955


It was Voltaire and me. I stood inside the Tribune Tower and stared at his quote inscribed in the limestone: “I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

The elevator cars were dinging as people rushed past me to fill them, but I stood still. I needed a moment to absorb where I was and what I had to do. My eyes landed on Milton’s: “Give me liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely according to my conscience, above all other liberties.” I savored every word, letting them dissolve like something sweet on my tongue. This was a pledge, a vow I’d taken to protect and uphold.

The elevator operator held the door for me. My sweaty palms left marks on the handrails, on everything I touched. I was nervous. Excited, too. But more than anything, I was burdened by the weight of generations riding on my shoulders. It was time for me, Jordan Walsh, to carry on the family tradition. My father had been a war correspondent during World War II and before that during the Spanish Civil War, working alongside Ernest Hemingway. My mother was the daughter of a newspaperman and during the war in Europe she, too, took a job as a reporter at the City News Bureau. My brother, Eliot, named after my mother’s favorite poet, T. S. Eliot, had worked at the newly formed Sun-Times.

Eliot was the real reason I was at the Tribune. All my life he’d been the push behind me, convincing me to climb the giant oak in our backyard and ride the Bobs or the Silver Streak at Riverview Park. Just because I was a girl didn’t mean I couldn’t keep up. He made me believe I could do anything he could do, including becoming a reporter. Eliot had been a rising star at the paper when he was killed. A hit-and-run accident that took him far too soon. All he wanted was to be a reporter, and now it was up to me to live out that dream for both of us. That was the promise I’d made to him at his funeral two years ago.



I stepped off the elevator on the fourth floor and entered an enormous open room. A sea of desks, one butted up right against the other, clustered beneath the fog of cigarette and pipe smoke. I passed by the John T. McCutcheon Injun Summer poster on the wall and entered deeper into the echo chamber. The linoleum floor amplified every click of the typewriters, every clack of heels walking about the room. I was surrounded by telephones ringing, portable radios murmuring, dozens of people talking and shouting. I stood invisible while conversations volleyed across the room:

“Did you get confirmation?”

“Still working on it.”

"We need another quote.”

Pages were ripped from the typewriters and waved in the air, followed by cries of, “Copy. Cop-py.” Young boys scrambled up to snatch and deliver the stories to the horseshoe in the middle of the room. That was where the four key editors sat. They were stationed along the rim with the slot man on the inside, in the center, so he could dole out the assignments. Every inch of that horseshoe was covered with newspapers, books, telephone directories, overflowing ashtrays and stained coffee cups. It wasn’t even eight o’clock in the morning and the frenetic energy in the room suggested that everyone was already behind schedule, running out of time. Welcome to the Chicago Tribune city room. It was the picture of chaos. And I loved it.

I spotted Mr. Pearson, the features editor, standing over his desk, still wearing his fedora and overcoat as he typed away. He hadn’t even taken a moment to sit down. I hovered nearby and cleared my throat. He didn’t look up. Instead he remained over his typewriter, pecking away, two-finger style.

To most people Mr. Pearson might have appeared rude, but I understood newspapermen. As a young girl I had spent many a day in the city room with my father, keeping quiet, waiting while he banged out a story. I longed to have my fingertips up against the deadline, my mind so consumed with facts that I couldn’t be bothered to take off my coat for fear that some detail might escape me.

I was acutely aware that time equaled the creation of news. Every second of every day something was happening out there—maybe something sinister or uplifting, criminal or joyous. To me news was a living, breathing entity. The facts and circumstances were like cells that divided and subdivided. Inevitable and unstoppable. A story was always taking shape, evolving, and it was up to people like me to discover it, dig down in the muck and pull it out, roots and all.

Mr. Pearson was still typing, and I waited patiently, thinking how this was a good time to work at the paper. There was a new boss in town, and Chicago was in the spotlight. Richard J. Daley had just been elected mayor, and he had promised to bring big changes to the city. He would revitalize the Loop and build expressways. He had plans for expanding O’Hare Airport and for expanding the city, too, with buildings going up at record speeds and more cranes sweeping the skyline every day. Yes, it was an exciting time to call myself a member of the Chicago press.

“Who are you?” Mr. Pearson asked at last without looking up.

“Jordan. Jordan Walsh.”

“Who?”

I was deflated. He didn’t seem to have any recollection of our interview less than two weeks before. “I’m the new reporter. Remember? You hired me? To cover . . .” My voice trailed off when he raised his eyes, keeping his index fingers poised on the typewriter keys.

“Marie— Where the hell is she? Mrs. Angelo?” he called out. “Mrs. Angelo—Mrs.—”

“I’m right here. I’m coming.” I heard the clunk, clunk, clunk of heels before my eyes landed on an attractive older woman, probably in her mid-fifties. She was short and had brown and silver-flecked hair that flipped up at her chin. “I’m right here,” she said. “You don’t have to holler.”

“Come show Robin here—”

“It’s Jordan,” I corrected him.

He didn’t care. He removed his fedora, revealing a full head of wavy white hair that didn’t match his dark eyebrows, thick as caterpillars. “Show Robin here to her desk,” Mr. Pearson said over the sound of his resumed typing. “This is your new society writer.”

Mrs. Angelo shook my hand, firm as any man would, and introduced herself. She was the society editor and one of only a handful of women on the floor.

“Come with me,” she said. “I’ll get you situated.”

She walked me around the floor, weaving in and around desks and down hallways. There was so much to take in, and by the end of our tour, I was discombobulated and couldn’t remember which doorway led to the lavatories, the photo lab, the wire machine room or the morgue, where the archived articles were laid to rest. There were so many department desks, too, each one piled high with newspapers, books, telephones and other clutter. I couldn’t recall which one was the financial desk, the telegraph desk, the cable desk or the city desk. And that was only the fourth floor.

“Oh, and don’t worry about the Robin part, kid,” said Mrs. Angelo as she walked me along. “He called the last girl Robin, too and her name was Sharon. Robin was two girls before that.”

“What happened to them? Did they move on to the city desk?”

She looked at me in surprise and then laughed. “You young girls are all the same. You come in here, fresh out of school, thinking you’re going to be the next Nellie Bly.” She shook her head. “I train you all, and what happens? You get disillusioned, get married, and then you quit.”

“That’s not my plan.” It wasn’t. I didn’t even have a boyfriend. And yes, I was going to be the next Nellie Bly.

After Mrs. Angelo assigned me to a desk, she called over to a voluptuous platinum blonde seated next to me. “Hey, M—M, finish taking Jordan here around. I have to get ready for a meeting. In the meantime”—Mrs. Angelo handed me a stack of forms—“fill these out when you have a chance.”

Mrs. Angelo went back to her desk across the room and M took over. She introduced herself as Madeline Miller but said everyone called her M. She was stylish, wore one of those new double-breasted shirtwaist dresses that accentuated her cone-shaped breasts. She was in her late twenties, maybe early thirties, and bore a striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe. Judging by the penciled-in beauty mark on her cheek, I realized this was no accident. She also wore enough perfume to rival all the cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke in the room.

“Peter,” M called to a man a few desks over who was wearing a green eyeshade, “this is Jordan. She’s starting today on society news. Peter’s a crime reporter.”

Peter adjusted his visor and said, “Excellent,” only his voice had a squeaky-door quality to it, so it came out sounding more like, “Ehhhx-cellent.”

“And this is Randy,” said M, turning the other direction. “He’s one of the staff artists.”

Randy was a good-looking fellow with a long face and one of those dimples at the tip of his chin. I stole a peek at the editorial cartoon he was working on as I said hello, but he didn’t bother to respond. He didn’t even open his mouth other than to sing along with a jingle playing over his radio: “Winston tastes good like a”—BANG-BANG—he tapped his pencil to the desk—“cigarette should. . . .”

The floor began to shake and a rumbling came up from the bowels of the building. I watched the coffee in Randy’s cup ripple like a calm lake that someone had thrown a pebble into. The quaking seemed to coincide with Randy’s BANG-BANG but was completely unrelated. No one seemed concerned and that’s when I realized they were used to this. Of course. It was only the printing presses in the basement starting to roll.

M continued with the introductions, walking me to some nearby desks. Walter Harris was a pipe-smoking, fast-talking political reporter with a jet-black flattop who grunted a hello. He sat opposite Henry Oberlin, who stopped typing long enough to stuff a handful of Frosted Flakes in his mouth while an unattended cigarette smoldered in his ashtray. He had a ring of pale blond hair around an otherwise balding head. He gazed at me and mumbled what I took to be a “hey” and went back to his story.

With each introduction I felt a little smaller. It was clear that these new colleagues had no interest in who I was, where I came from or what I was there to do. They were also all men, and frankly, I was surprised that M had even bothered taking me around in the first place.

Although when she walked me over to the next desk, no introduction was needed. I recognized him right away. Marty Sinclair was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who had a weekly column and whose byline frequently appeared on page one. My father knew him, but I’d never met him before and I was rapt. To me Marty Sinclair was journalistic royalty. He was a brilliant reporter and an eloquent writer, and not all journalists could be both. I took a moment to observe the great master in action, how he kept his thick black glasses propped up on his forehead just above his eyebrows and gripped a pencil between his teeth as if it were an ear of corn. His necktie was tossed over his shoulder and his shirtsleeves were rolled halfway up his hairless arms. He dropped his glasses to the bridge of his nose and looked at M for a second before his eyes landed on me.

“Mr. Sinclair”—I reached out to shake his hand—“it’s an honor. I’m a huge fan.” My heartbeat pounded in my ears. I could hardly believe it. I’m meeting Marty Sinclair.

He removed the pencil from his mouth and studied my face. I thought I detected the hint of a smile thawing on his lips, and it thrilled me.

But before he could respond, Mr. Copeland, the city editor, shouted for him from the horseshoe. “Sinclair—over here!”

“Jesus Christ. What now?” Marty shook his head.

The spell between us was broken. He shoved himself away from his desk and went to the horseshoe to talk to Mr. Copeland and Mr. Ellsworth, the managing editor, who oversaw all the desks; the national, foreign, financial and city. I kept glancing back at the horseshoe. Marty’s arms were flailing. So were Mr. Ellsworth’s. Mr. Ellsworth was tall and lanky with a tidy beard and enough gray in his hair to suggest he’d paid his dues in the business. Marty Sinclair may have been the Tribune’s star reporter, but Mr. Ellsworth was the man behind the man. He controlled the center desk, and that was the heart and soul of the paper.

Mr. Ellsworth had interviewed me two weeks before. I assumed he’d been expecting a man, because he glanced at my résumé and said, “Jordan, huh?” When he ignored my clips, I knew he wasn’t interested in bringing a girl on to the city desk, especially one straight out of school. Didn’t matter that I’d been the deputy editor of the Daily Northwestern or that I’d graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Medill School of Journalism. Less than five minutes into our meeting, he’d sent me over to Mr. Pearson. A couple of girls in the features department had recently gotten married and quit, so Mr. Pearson had agreed to give me a break, writing for society news. During my interview I had told him that I’d like to work on some other types of stories, too.

“I have some ideas for feature stories and—”

Mr. Pearson had given me a look at that stopped me mid-sentence. With his bristly brows knitted together, he said, “Society news. That’s the job, missy. Take it or leave it.”

I took it, having already been shot down for the city desk job at the Daily News and the Chicago American. The City News Bureau and the Sun-Times never called me back for a second interview. I knew what Eliot would say if he were still alive: Just get your foot in the door. You’ll work your way onto the city desk. And that was exactly what I intended to do.

Mr. Ellsworth and Mr. Copeland were still going at it with Marty. I was dying to know what they were arguing about because I was curious by nature. Always asking too many questions, sticking my nose where it didn’t belong. My father used to say, “Curiosity is the curse of a good journalist.” He also used to say, “Keep your ears open. People love to tell their secrets.”

The last person M introduced me to was Benny, a young general assignment reporter, who was eighteen but looked about twelve. He had red hair and freckles and reminded me of Howdy Doody. Unlike the others, he was friendly, if not downright chatty. While I got situated at my desk and filled out the new-employee forms for Mrs. Angelo, Benny told me about his breakfast that morning.

“I had a double-yolk egg.” The look on his face said, I still can’t believe it. “That ever happen to you?”

“I don’t believe so. No.”

“You crack open an egg and there’s two yolks. I mean what are the odds? Like finding a four-leaf clover.”

“Aw, shut up over there with the yolks already,” said Walter.

But Benny kept going. “I think that’s gotta mean something, don’t you? Like today’s my lucky day or something.”

“It’ll be your lucky day if I don’t come over there and shut your trap. And yours, too,” Walter said to Randy, who was still singing the Winston jingle even though his radio was blasting Talent Scouts with Arthur Godfrey.

A few minutes later Marty came back to his desk, muttering, “Subpoena me, my ass. . . .” He opened his top drawe...

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Descripción New American Library, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition. Every second of every day, something is happening. There s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column. Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there s no guarantee she ll remain above the fold. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780451474971

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Descripción New American Library, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition. Every second of every day, something is happening. There s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column. Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there s no guarantee she ll remain above the fold. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780451474971

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Descripción New American Library, United States, 2015. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The latest novel from the bestselling author of Dollface and What the Lady Wants takes us deep into the tumultuous world of 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles with the heavy price of ambition. Every second of every day, something is happening. There s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column. Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there s no guarantee she ll remain above the fold. Nº de ref. de la librería BZV9780451474971

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