Newcity Lit: Whiskey Breakfast
Readers of Chicago history should already know the name Richard Lindberg. He has authored fifteen books, among them the 2010 Society of Midland Authors Award-winning biography “The Gambler King of Clark Street: Michael C. McDonald and the Rise of Chicago’s Democratic Machine.”
Yet his newest, the product of a self-confessed “life’s mission,” may be his masterpiece. In reconstructing his own somewhat mysterious Swedish-immigrant origins, “Whiskey Breakfast: My Swedish Family, My American Life” is simultaneously a highly personal and unflinching deconstruction of and challenge to both Chicago immigrant and suburban myths.
Think of it as the true-life antidote to the popular nostalgic Lake-region movie “A Christmas Story.” At the center of Lindberg’s tale is unraveling the truth behind his father Oscar’s 1924 emigration to the United States, about which he spun a version that disguised that he had come here illegally, a draft dodger under an assumed identity; part of his personal myth was a battery of Old Left ideas that he retained but basically did not act upon even as he became his own “boss,” a Chicago construction contractor. There was an even darker secret, too, that Lindberg has ferreted out.