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.

2 thoughts on “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)

  1. ;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.

    Bravo–well said! I never get tired of telling people–or of reminding myself as a writer–that every life is a moving target, and that (to scramble my metaphors) we can’t step twice into the same river. No man or woman is the same at forty as at twenty or thirty; it seems to me that staying true to that simple fact, or even conscious of it, is one of the great challenges of biography. But it’s also one of the most exciting things about writing a life.

  2. thanks! i’m glad this seems to be getting a bit of play in the analysis, where a distinction is being made between the woman on the tapes and jackie o. and you’re right- it is exciting and, i think, one of the funnest parts of writing biography.

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