right-o

when i met with yusha this last time, he looked me in the eye and said, she would have liked you. she would have liked that you’re doing this. 

i tabled that in my head. it’s an endorsement that will take time to process. sometimes i don’t even like that i’m doing this. i can’t imagine how jackie could.

i’ve been doing whatever you want to call my whole jackie thing for the last 17 years. that’s not an exaggeration. it’s been that slow of a burn.

after all that time, i’m pretty certain i know what i’m doing and i’m pretty certain i’m right. i’m pretty certain she was a feminist figure who, through her sense of adventure, quietly pushed the limits of what it was acceptable for nice women to do.

but there’s still just enough doubt lingering there to necessitate the word “pretty,” and that little “pretty” goes a long way in rendering all my certainty null.

if the jackie tapes are going to give me anything, it is the confirmation that she was, in fact, the woman i have come to know. the woman i have written about.

caroline kennedy told diane sawyer that the main lesson her mother would have wanted people to draw from her story was that life is an adventure, always. when she said this- thus, giving credence to everything i’ve ever written on a hunch- i felt a wave of the cockiness that must’ve compelled babe ruth to call his shot.

the “pretty” is dead. i know i’m right. someday, even if it’s a day still 17 years away, just you wait. i am going to knock one out of the park.

dear brad pitt

brad

hey, let’s chat…

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR EVER-LOVING MIND?

you have been a celebrity for like 30 years. for the last 7, you’ve been a member of the world’s favorite tabloid triangle, the biggest thing to have happened since eddie fisher jilted debbie reynolds and ran off with liz. it has been SEVEN YEARS since you divorced and yet the tabloids still cover it as though it were yesterday. you are the eddie fisher of today. you should know better by now.

but this country’s celebrity industrial complex is infinitely tricky, so i’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. i’m going to assume you maybe didn’t think anyone read parade magazineanymore (a valid assumption- i didn’t know they did either) so that’s why you told them you were “pathetic” during your marriage to jennifer aniston. 

but here’s what i don’t understand. in the last four days, during which this has turned into a shit storm resulting in an aniston-fan fatwa, why the hell have you been trying to correct the record

i’m doubting you’re surrounded by academics who can tell you about the ripple effects of these things but this seems like pretty rudimentary stuff. it should be in your knowledge basket by now. 

you should know that there is no correcting the record. that once you’ve said something it has been said and, despite your best efforts, anything you say subsequently will only serve to make everything go to total shit.

this is elementary. it’s celebrity studies 101. if you contend the tabloids are creating drama that doesn’t exist, it appears that you are trying to conceal a drama that does exist, which will only further fuel the drama that doesn’t exist.

dear brad pitt, you are being an idiot. i realize you’re promoting a film and doing a press tour and you really really want an oscar for this one* but, for the love of us weekly, shut your mouth

love,
o.

*[ps. on the oscar front, lainey’s analysis is brill: “He wants Moneyball SO bad. So bad he even sat down for Moviefone!!! You can watch the full interview here. Put it this way – he’s taking questions from “fans”. Put it this way – this is whatTwilight people do to promote their work. Put it this way – George Clooney isn’t doing Moviefone.”] 

dated

in the spring of 2004, with the confidence one can only have as a graduate student straight out of undergrad, i wrote the eleventh chapter of a non-existent book.

because i had to read anna karenina in five days and my longing to compare the use of the first person plural narrators in a rose for emily and the virgin suicides never gained any traction, i wrote about jackie. i knew her life like the back of my hand. i figured writing about her would be a breeze.

it wasn’t. to this day, it isn’t.

i might’ve been a nicer person in graduate school had i known then that i would be wrestling that same chapter for that nonexistent book now. might’ve been less prideful, less hee, hee! you’re all trying to apply hegelian theory to the grapes of wrath while i’m reading tabloids and revising a chapter that i’ve finished three weeks before our thesis is due!

eight years later i am still revising that chapter. admittedly, it’s changed. there’s better characterization and structure, and it’s gone from the middle of the book to the beginning. but the guts are the same. and, much to my chagrin, it’s gotten a little dated.

way back in 2004, i made a mistake all rookie writers make. i assumed my book would be published immediately, to great fanfare. because of that, i opened with this sentence: “the fallout was instantaneous, the response was shock and awe.”

in my innocence, i didn’t realize an allusion to the war strategies of george w. bush might not be the way to go.

a gentle reminder re: Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversation on Life with John F. Kennedy (the book i’ve not yet read/the tapes i’ve not yet heard)

there’s an account of jackie that stands out to me among all the others, if only because it’s irreconcilable with the woman the media portrays.

it comes from an old female acquaintance, who complained of jacqueline during the 1940s: “she had so many sides. she behaved very capriciously. she’d be very seductive to a man at a party, sitting next to him, and then stub her cigarette on his hand.”

this is the jackie i love. the ballsy bitch beneath the breathy voice. this is also, from the sound of it, the jackie that the world will be meeting through the jackie tapes. a woman both cuttingly perceptive and astonishingly catty.

the jackie tapes are fascinating, yes (i assume). they teach us many things we did not know (jackie disliked mlk! and degaulle! and lbj! and ted sorenson!) and remind us of others (she love loved andré malraux).

my one concern about these tapes is this: they represent jackie at one point in time. and, if jackie teaches us anything, it is that it’s dangerous to reduce anyone to a single story. we are all more complex, more nuanced than any interview or anecdote could ever convey.

balls up

i am a biographer.

i’d been working up the nerve to say that for months. before, “becoming” always crept  into that statement. because it seemed too ballsy to state that i was, in fact, what i already am.

but a biographer is not a butterfly. it is something you are, not something you become.

every biographer i’ve met takes a different view of what it means to be a biographer and of how to best go about that. but, as is the case with most things in life, there are a million and one ways and you can have your pick.

i have chosen, obviously, a way that looks like utter insanity and seems to make very little sense.

in that, i keep coming back to these two things:

the sacrifice of expectations and the suspension of disbelief.

not to go all oprah here, but i think these are key if you’re going to actually be what, deep down, you already are. because you can’t create something new unless you give up your plans for how it’s going to look and you can’t dream big unless you accept that anything can be.

that’s the extent of my wisdom. that and buy the most beautiful business cards in all the world. because even if they’re an outrageous extravagance and you have to eat leaves and grass for the whole week after to pay them off, the look of amazement and the exclamation of THAT is a NICE card that comes out of the mouth of each person to whom you give one will make it well worth the expense.

p.s.

i’m being cheeky and writing about banned books over HERE.

“Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber contains 70 references to sexual intercourse, 39 illegitimate pregnancies, seven abortions and ten descriptions of women undressing in front of men. Upon its publication in 1944, the novel was banned in 14 states, and denounced as immoral. It is… which is why you should read it.”