Dead Darling From Daughter Am I

Faulkner advised us to kill our darlings, those bits of our novels we love that don’t advance the story. I had way too many darlings in Daughter Am I, but I did steel myself to remove some of them. Today, for your edification, I am posting one dead darling that made it through all the edits except the very last one. You won’t find it in the book (well, except for the last paragraph or two. I wanted to make sure what you read here made sense so I added a bit that was included in the novel). 

“The Cleveland Syndicate was dominated by four Jews,” Teach said, “Moe Dalitz, Samuel Tucker, Morris Kleinman, and Louis Rothkopf. An Italian, Chuck Polizzi, and an Irishman, Tommy McGinty, achieved near equality.”

“Chuck Polizzi wasn’t Italian,” Spaghetti said. “His parents were Jews from Russia. When they died, he was adopted by the Polizzi family.”

Teach arched his eyebrows. “I didn’t know that.” Pointedly ignoring Kid Rags’ chuckle, he stroked his chin. “I often wondered how a non-Jew got so high up in that organization. I did know the Polizzis belonged to the Mayfield Road Mob, which became part of the Cleveland Syndicate. While the Mayfield Road Mob, composed of both Jews and Italians, had a reputation for utter ruthlessness, the Syndicate believed the bribe, as a general rule, was more effective than the bullet. Families like the Polizzis, who accepted the new way, lived to become old as well as rich.”

“So how did an Irishman get so high-ranking?” Mary asked.

“Tommy McGinty—Thomas Jefferson McGinty—was the circulation manager for one of the Cleveland newspapers. Contrary to the legend that gangs and gangsters were a product of prohibition, many of the principals of the Syndicate-to-be were assembled and trained in violence years before by the newspapers in their fight for local monopolies. Tommy McGinty and his counterparts on the other newspapers would recruit thugs to beat up their rivals’ employees, particularly the newspaper boys, especially those on lucrative corners.

“In the early prohibition years, McGinty became one of Cleveland’s most powerful bootleggers.

“The Cleveland Syndicate was truly formidable. Moe Dalitz, probably the smartest guy in the business next to Meyer Lansky—”

“You said Johnny Torrio was the smartest,” Mary objected.

“So I did.” Teach smiled at her. “It’s nice to know I haven’t been talking to myself. In point of fact, all three men were smart. Always looking to expand. Always looking for new venues.”

“You sound like you admire those people,” Mary said.

In the silence that greeted her remark, she could hear Spaghetti and Lila Lorraine murmuring softly to each other. Looking around to check on the rest of the group, she noticed that Iron Sam, Crunchy, and Journey all appeared to be sleeping. Kid Rags and Happy were passing the hip flask back and forth. Tim had his head cocked while he drove, as if he were listening for Teach’s response.

“Not at all,” Teach said finally, his voice harsh. “People tend to romanticize prohibition, to romanticize the so-called Mafia, but they don’t get it. It’s about the unholy trinity—criminals, politicians, and businesspersons—all working together to sell out the little people. And make no mistake about it—no matter how rich and successful we might be, the vast majority of us are the little people.”

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6 Responses to “Dead Darling From Daughter Am I”

  1. A. F. Stewart Says:

    A well-written bit of history and prose; too bad it had to be axed. Writers sometimes have to be ruthless.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Perhaps it didn’t need to be axed, but it added an extra page to a long section of exposition, and it didn’t add anything to the book. At least it’s not going to waste!

  2. GABixler Says:

    Don’t you wonder about some of these deletions some time? When I get into what might be called a more literary novel, isn’t much of the writing “darlings” some time? It does make you think about the power of the editor and publisher, doesn’t it? Are all mysteries supposed to be fast-paced, unless they are in the “cozy” genre? I enjoy fast-paced, but…I can still remember some long rambling books into which I sank deeply and thoroughly enjoyed every word!


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Glenda, to be honest, I was the editor who deleted this particular bit. For some reason, every single time I went through the book, I felt a drag right here, and if I felt it, I was sure others would. I mention some of these characters elsewhere, and perhaps I was picking up on an echo. Daughter Am I includes much history of the national crime syndicate, which is erroneously called the Mafia, and I wanted to make sure that every single bit was energizing rather than enervating.

      I do think there is way too much emphasis today on “page turners.” What’s wrong with a book that tantalizes you to linger on the page, a book that teaches you something or makes you think about life or history in a different manner? Those are the books I most enjoy.

  3. Susan Helene Gottfried Says:

    Hey, Pat! A dead darling, huh? It was a good one… you know how *I* feel about these sorts of snippets.

    All posted about over at Win a Book for you, as always.

  4. Sheila Deeth Says:

    It’s a nice piece to read, but I love your ear for whether it advances the story. I’m a fairly lazy reader – an advantage because I read fast and forget easily enough to reread enjoyably, but a problem when there’s too many slow pieces of writing as my eyes move faster than my brain and I skim the wrong bits.

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