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Authors: James Whorton

Angela Sloan

BOOK: Angela Sloan

Praise for
Angela Sloan

“Angela Sloan is a winning fourteen-year-old heroine and way too honest to be an effective Watergate burglar. This smart, poignant, funny book almost makes me thankful for the Nixon presidency.”

—Matthew Sharpe, author of
You Were Wrong

“The teenage daughter of a former CIA agent, Sloan takes us on a wild ride as she confronts not only a crazy cast of characters but secrets of her own past—all the while maintaining her undercover identity . . . bold, edgy, and downright comic.”

—Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

Praise for James Whorton, Jr.

“Whorton's deadpan comic genius exploits misunderstandings for laugh-out-loud results. A joy.”

, starred review

“Fast paced, often hilarious, always readable . . . thoroughly exhilarating. To those who thought minimalism in fiction was moribund, think again; Whorton . . . gives it a fresh and revitalizing shot in the arm.”

—Stephen Dixon, author of

“Whorton conjures through close observation a hilariously absurd world that holds, just possibly, the keys to its own salvation. Amid the absurdity, you can feel the hope.”

The Tennessean

“Whorton has created characters, who, amid conversations about engines and sex and amid beer-drinking bouts and efforts to dodge responsibility, seek answers to the fundamental questions about life and who often discover their better selves in the process.”

Lexington Herald-Leader


Approximately Heaven

Free Press

A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by James Whorton, Jr.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Free Press Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Free Press trade paperback edition August 2011

FREE PRESS and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at

Designed by Carla Jayne Jones

Manufactured in the United States of America

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

ISBN 978-1-4516-2440-3
ISBN 978-1-4516-2441-0 (ebook)

To Nora


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Angela Sloan

Angela Sloan Reading Group Guide

About the Author

Yellow Post Road
Wigmore, WV
December 19, 1972

Dear Central Intelligence Agency:

Your polygraph examiner, Mr. Jerry Wicker, has just now left my house. After questioning me for two hours in the voice of a sleepy robot, he has declared me “unreliable” and “unnatural.” He calls me a “strange, dry girl.”

For two hours I sat at the dining room table, wired to his aluminum suitcase, watching a brown felt sideburn curl away from his cheek. Glue failure! Now he accuses me of lying to him. My “flat eye line” and “suspicious hand carriage” have given the game away.

Let me say this about lying. When a person is fourteen years old and traveling on her own by car, she has got to have some stories in her pocket. Every trucker with a tremor in his arm wants to know where that girl's dad is. Even the clerk at the Lee-Hi Motor Hotel feels he is owed a piece of her life story, if only so he can repeat it when someone comes asking. So yes, I got into the habit of making things up. But the truth was always real to me. I never lied to make myself feel better.

Does somebody in Langley need to feel better?

That is not a good reason to lie.

Most people's fathers aren't perfect, and Ray Sloan is no exception. I don't expect you to defend him in the papers. I admit I didn't help matters any with my activities last summer when the FBI was looking for him. I was trying to lie low, but then I got involved in that other business with the terrorist hippies.

The fiasco at the Watergate was a surprise to me. It was a thing
that Ray had really almost nothing to do with. Still, I will tell you what little I know about it, plus everything about the Chinese Communist girl known as Betty or Ding.

Please excuse my faulty typing. Having sat here these minutes beating this out, I have had the chance to remind myself that Mr. Wicker was only doing his job, perhaps to the best of his ability. I suppose he was following some important rule when he did not permit me to answer any of his questions beyond a yes or no. I thank you for your consideration in sending Mr. Wicker here, since driving to Langley for a lie detector test would have required me to miss a day of school. I have Mr. Wicker's rubber mole that he left on the edge of the sink.

Now I am going to tell you what really happened. The whole thing. No stories. In order for it all to make sense, I will have to back up first. I will keep it as short as I can.

Because of the truthful and explicit nature of what follows, please consider this a Top Secret Correspondence.


here are some things I can't explain about Ray. Why did he drink too much? I don't know. Why did he save my life at a moment when his own life had exhausted him?

He was not my father in the biological sense. Other people didn't know that, because it was our cover. Even with friends inside the Agency, there was no need to discuss such things. Why would there be? We didn't see a need, anyway. It is easier to live your cover if you live it all the time, day and night, in public and in private, and even when you're alone.

But I can remember my previous parents, of course. I was seven when they were murdered by Simbas outside Stanleyville, along with my small brother and our Congolese housekeeper, Judith. I survived the massacre by hiding myself in an orange tree, where I still was clinging like a bat when Ray arrived in a yellow beer truck and spied me among the branches. He was someone who'd visited our place once or twice—an acquaintance of my father's. He plucked me down. “
N'ayez pas peur,
” he told me in his Okie-inflected French. Don't be scared. He walked all over the muddy yard with me shaking in his arms.

This was the summer of 1964, when the Simba rebellion was happening in the Congo. Many white people had left Stanleyville, and those who hadn't left were stuck. Simbas controlled the airport and had overrun the U.S. Consulate. The consular staff, including some Agency men, were hostages. Ray worked under nonofficial cover, though, so he had no connection to the consulate. He was a manager with the Sheffield Beer Distributing Company. He hid me in a room at the Sheffield warehouse.

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