Windy City

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-04-14
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

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"Windy City" is funny and tender . . . full of boisterous love for the sport of politics and Chicago. The best political novel in years--Christopher Buckley, author of "Thank You for Smoking."

Author Biography

Scott Simon is the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. He has reported stories from all fifty states and every continent, covered ten wars, from El Salvador to Iraq, and has won every major award in broadcasting. He is the author of Home and Away, a memoir, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, and the novel Pretty Birds. He lives with his wife, Caroline, and their daughters, Elise and Lina.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter One

Thursday Night

The mayor was found shortly after eleven with his bronze, brooding face lying on the last two slices of a prosciutto and artichoke pizza, his head turned and his wide mouth gaping, as if gulping for a smashed brown bulb of garlic with life’s last breath. Blood from his gums had already seeped into the tomatoes, prosciutto, and caramelized onions. His blue oxford-cloth shirt was unbuttoned. His red tie had been slipped out of its knot and trailed forlornly from his collar. His heavy gray slacks were laid across the back of the sofa where he was sitting for his last meal, illumed by the cold glare of the television set. The security guards who had rushed in heard the ice in the mayor’s bourbon crackling while it melted (it was that fresh) over the cloaked gallop of their thick shoes against the great carpet. Three men’s magazines were fanned across the sofa, each with the kind of cover that, in Indiana, would call for the woman’s bosom to be enrobed with a brown paper strip. But the guards’ attention was drawn to the bold red letters they saw marching across the mayor’s boxer shorts: big daddy. One of them reached gently for the mayor’s arms to feel for a pulse. Another slowly passed a hand over his eyes, and softly called his name—it was how they were trained—while the third muttered some kind of code, colors, numbers, alphas and tangos, into a minuscule microphone in his hand. Mrs. Bacon, the mayor’s secretary, edged close to their burly gray shoulders to peer into the mayor’s blank brown eyes and shakily point her hand at the slogan on his undershorts. “I’m sure they were a gift,” she said quietly. It was the mayor’s habit to have one extra-large pizza from Quattro’s delivered to City Hall by ten each night, after he had returned from an evening’s round of appearances. His standing order specified extra cheese and prosciutto. When the kitchen staff at Quattro’s deduced the pizza was destined for City Hall, they spontaneously contributed extra glistening strips of onions and grilled peppers. His security guards joked that two officers were required to carry the pizza across the threshold of the mayor’s office; it felt like carrying a manhole cover in your arms. So much extra cheese had been loaded onto the pizza that when anyone took a bite—an endeavor that involved opening one’s mouth as if for a molar examination—they had to pull gooey strings away from their teeth to almost the length of their arms. Most politicians groused that over an evening of cocktail receptions, fund-raising dinners, and precinct meetings, they never got a chance to eat. They needed to keep both hands free for handshakes and clapping shoulders. They couldn’t chance that a sprig of parsley from a canapé might blemish their smile and photograph like a vagrant’s missing tooth. They didn’t want to be seen swallowing steak tartare on a round of toast, only to be asked, “Do you know how that cow was slaughtered?” But the mayor’s immense appetite was too well publicized for him to plead self-restraint. He risked political peril if he appeared to be indifferent to the specialties of any neighborhood. This guaranteed that on any given night, the mayor consumed cheese pierogi, chickpea samosas, pistachio-studded cannolis, and/or sugar-dusted Mexican crescent cookies in his nightly rounds. And consumed them in toto, for half portions were considered fraught with risk. “How can I tell the good citizens of Pilsen that I have to go easy on this magnificent tres leches cake,” he remonstrated, “because I’m saving room for the ale cake in Canaryville? They might suspect that I truly like only two of the tres leches. I mean, when they’ve seen me make room for the packzi in Logan Square”—a cream-filled, pre-

Excerpted from Windy City: A Novel of Politics by Scott Simon
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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