White Widow

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Overview

Praised by the New York Times Book Review as "an...affecting morality tale," Jim Lehrer's devastating White Widow brings the reader to the brink of one man's unstoppable, ruinous passion for a complete stranger.

Jack T. Oliver has a solid marriage, a cozy house in Corpus Christi, and a job he loves as a driver for the Great Western Trailways bus line. In a few weeks, Jack is going to be promoted to Master Operator in recognition of his years of perfect service and on-time ...

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Overview

Praised by the New York Times Book Review as "an...affecting morality tale," Jim Lehrer's devastating White Widow brings the reader to the brink of one man's unstoppable, ruinous passion for a complete stranger.

Jack T. Oliver has a solid marriage, a cozy house in Corpus Christi, and a job he loves as a driver for the Great Western Trailways bus line. In a few weeks, Jack is going to be promoted to Master Operator in recognition of his years of perfect service and on-time driving. It's a good life. Until a White Widow boards his bus, on a one-way ticket from Victoria to Corpus Christi.

A White Widow is a wild card, a woman traveling alone who can change the course of a driver's life, and not always for the best. What happens when Jack Oliver's White Widow passes through his life is as unforgettable as it is irrevocable. Within weeks, without ever even learning her name, he will fall passionately in loveā€”and lose everything he has, a few things he never had, and some he never thought about until they were gone.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Library Journal
Every week, Jack T. "On Time" Oliver drives his bus round trip from Houston to Corpus Christi and back. Now, in the late 1950s, he is about to receive his reward for faithful service, promotion to "master operator." He cherishes the uniform he wears and is proud of the slimness of his profile since he lost 70 pounds. He is married to the first and only woman he ever dated. Then a beautiful woman, a "white widow" in bus driver jargon, climbs aboard his bus one Friday, en route to the end of the line. In his thoughts, he names her "Ava," after actress Ava Gardner. Images of her confuse and obsess him; he dreams of a life he will never know. His distraction leads to disaster, exposing the fragility of his hold on happiness. PBS news anchor Lehrer The Last Debate, LJ 8/95 has crafted an affecting story of a man who has anesthetized himself against the emptiness of his life but can do so no longer. Recommended for public libraries.David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781891620416
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 785,672
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Lehrer

Jim Lehrer began his career as a reporter, political columnist, and editor in Dallas, Texas. Since 1975, he has been a news anchor at PBS, where he is currently the anchor and executive editor of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." Lehrer has won numerous awards for journalism, most recently the 1999 National Humanities Medal. Lehrer is the author of eleven novels, two memoirs, and three plays. He lives with his wife, Kate, in Washington, D.C. They have three daughters.

Biography

Jim Lehrer didn't always aspire to be a writer -- when he was 16, he wanted to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since he wasn't a very good baseball player, he turned to sports writing, then writing in general. As a member of what he's called "the Hemingway generation," he decided to support himself as a newspaper writer until he could make a living as a novelist.

After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, Lehrer served for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then began his career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor in Dallas. His first novel, about a band of Mexican soldiers re-taking the Alamo, was published in 1966 and made into a movie. Lehrer quit his newspaper job in order to write more books, but was lured back into reporting after he accepted a part-time consulting job at the Dallas public television station. He was eventually made host and editor of a nightly news program at the station.

Lehrer then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as public affairs coordinator for PBS and as a correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT). At NPACT, Lehrer teamed up with Robert MacNeil to provide live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, broadcast on PBS. It was the beginning of a partnership that would last more than 20 years, as Lehrer and MacNeil co-hosted The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (originally The Robert MacNeil Report) from 1976 to 1983, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1995. In 1995, MacNeil left the show, but Lehrer soldiered on as solo anchor and executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

When he wasn't busy hosting the country's first hour-long news program, Lehrer wrote and published books, including a series of mystery novels featuring his fictional lieutenant governor, One-Eyed Mack, and a political satire, The Last Debate. Lehrer surprised critics and won new readers with his breakout success, White Widow, the "tender and tragic" (Washington Post) tale of a small-town Texas bus driver. He followed it with the bestselling Purple Dots, a "high-spirited Beltway romp" (The New York Times Book Review), and The Special Prisoner, about a WWII bomber pilot whose brutal experiences in a Japanese P.O.W. camp come back to haunt him 50 years later. His recent novel No Certain Rest recounts the quest of a U.S. Parks Department archaeologist to solve a murder committed during the Civil War.

Across this wide range of subjects, Lehrer is known for his careful plotting and even more careful research. Clearly, this is a man who cares about good stories -- but which is more important to him, journalism or fiction? Lehrer once admitted that he's known as "the TV guy who also writes books. Someday, maybe it will go the other way and I'll be the novelist who also does television."

Good To Know

During the last four presidential elections, Lehrer has served as a moderator for nine debates, including all three of the presidential candidates' debates in 2000. He also hosted the Emmy Award-nominated program "Debating Our Destiny: Forty Years of Presidential Debates."

Lehrer lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, novelist Kate Lehrer. The two also have an 18th-century farmhouse close to the Antietam battle site. Visits to the site helped inspire Lehrer's thirteenth novel, No Certain Rest.

Robert MacNeil, for many years the co-host with Jim Lehrer of PBS's MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, is also a novelist. His books include Burden of Desire, The Voyage and Breaking News.

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    1. Also Known As:
      James Lehrer
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 19, 1934
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wichita, Kansas
    1. Education:
      A.A., Victoria College; B.J., University of Missouri, 1956

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