Whiskey Breakfast: My Swedish Family, My American Life

Richard C. Lindberg. Univ. of Minnesota, $22.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 9780816646845
In this memoir, Lindberg (The Gambler King of Clark Street) traces the steps of his Swedish-American parents in Chicago as he tries to resolve the many conflicts he still faces from his difficult youth. Excerpts from letters and postcards offer first-hand insights into the lives of immigrants and those left behind in the Old World from the early to mid-20th Century. The saga begins with promising hints at conflict, mystery, and scandal, but as Lindberg finishes the stories of the past and begins his own, it's clear that he's using the pages to process and unload resentment and other unwanted baggage. With sometimes interesting, sometimes bewildering characters at play—the woman-chasing, socialist, alcoholic, thrice-divorced, older father who abandoned a pregnant woman to flee required military service in Sweden for America; the mother who chooses her parents and childhood home over an independent life; the flapper aunt—the book reads like a novel in its first half, and like a journal in its second. Despite the weighty contemplations, Lindberg serves up captivating historical tidbits and offers a window into the immigrant experience. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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