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Hidden Platitudes

Hidden Latitudes

by Alison Anderson. New York: Scribner, 1996.

Published back-to-back with I Was Amelia Earhart, a comparison between these two books is inevitable, however odious. Hidden Latitudes has some distinct advantages over IWAE. For instance, it has a plot. And the author carefully steers clear of any subject which requires even a smattering of aviation knowledge. Also, it is written in plain English rather than Sophomore Artsy. Mostly.

It does feature the apparently obligatory affair between Fred and AE on the remote desert island, with the additional fillip of a baby (lost, of course, to premature birth/miscarriage). Oh, but is it really Fred and AE? We are not to know for sure (this is the High Art part): “My own tale does not in any way attempt to establish or suggest what happened to Earhart and Noonan – if indeed the woman on the island is Earhart. That I leave up to the reader to decide.” Well, given that the woman tells of flying her Electra across the Pacific, and places herself last in civilization sometime before World War II, and has a male navigator who drinks (!), and is on an island in Kiribati – oh, forget it.

The most interesting thing about Hidden Latitudes is the jacket photo. While fancied up with art effects, it is still clearly a photo of Nikumaroro. In fact, there is a slide in TIGHAR’s collection which matches it. I know. I took the photo.

Pat Thrasher

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