The White Widow

Jim Lehrer, Author, James Lehrer, Author Random House (NY) $21 (224p) ISBN 978-0-679-45236-2
This 10th novel from renowned anchorman Lehrer (The Last Debate; The Sooner Spy) trades journalism and Washington politics for the flat highways of 1950s Texas, where Jack T. ""On Time"" Oliver drives a Trailways bus between Houston and Corpus Christi-until his overactive imagination begins to shake his simple world apart. Lehrer fills this wistful tale with interesting details of bus line procedures and legends, the most central being the eponymous ""White Widow,"" every bus driver's ultimate dream woman who comes aboard and changes his life. Jack is weeks away from receiving the honorary gold badge of the ""master operator,"" recognizing his seniority and high level of service, when he meets his White Widow, a beautiful Ava Gardner look-alike who rides his bus on Fridays. Although they've exchanged only a few words, Jack begins to concoct love fantasies, losing his concentration as he longs for each Friday's run. His driving begins to suffer, and his wife suspects him of cheating. One stormy Friday, with ""Ava"" riding across from him in the ""angel seat,"" the consequences of his obsession become dire and irreversible. Lehrer convincingly uses bus driver lore, drawing on memories of his college job as a ticket agent. His delicate portrayal of Jack's life and inner thoughts heightens the story's poignancy. With its tragic elements, simple narrative and strong undercurrent of myth, Lehrer's tale lingers in memory like a sorrowful ghost story. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Show other formats
Hardcover - 978-0-517-36148-1
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-1-891620-41-6
Hardcover - 307 pages - 978-0-7862-1088-6
Open Ebook - 124 pages - 978-0-307-82446-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-04886-7
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-7867-4951-5
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