Tuesday, February 09, 2021
WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.
1. What are you currently reading? The Good Son: JFK Jr. and the Mother He Loved by Christopher Andersen. Guess what this is about. Christopher Andersen has made celebrity biographies his stock in trade. He's written at least 5 about the Kennedys and 5 about the Royals. I've read many of them. Andersen is a good storyteller, but he treats his subjects like movie stars, not historic figures. So his books are readable, but they aren't serious. Example: Andersen constantly quotes (verbatim!) intimate conversations between two people that he cannot possibly know are accurate. It's entertaining, but, well, buyer beware.
This biography begins with the two most iconic moments of John's life: the salute as his father's coffin passed and his death in a plane crash. If that doesn't grip you, you're reading the wrong book. It goes on to tell the story chronologically, emphasizing that, as the only child ever born to a President-elect, John was famous before he was born. As Ted Kennedy noted, "the world knew his name before he did." There's little that's new here, but it is involving.
BTW, there is no credible evidence -- NONE WHATSOEVER -- that John ever gave Donald Trump serious thought. Not as a fellow New Yorker, not as a friend, and certainly not as a potential President. He never wrote about him in George, as has circulated on Facebook. No one has ever been able to produce a magazine tearsheet to confirm it because it doesn't exist. The most that can be said if that they happened to sit side-by-side at a basketball game. Once. By chance.
JFK, Jr. was however fond of Bill Clinton and corresponded with him via fax (remember those?) during impeachment. He was reportedly less fond of Hillary, because she was interfering with New York politics when he was considering a dabble. They did not murder him.
I only mention this because of the way Trumpsters and the Q-Anon cult have co-opted JFK, Jr. It's silly, of course. But I guess every American conspiracy theory somehow must tie back to the Kennedys.
2. What did you recently finish reading? The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It's all here: Fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, pirates ... Everything you loved about the movie, everything you love about fairy tales and adventure stories, it's all here.
But it's also tinged with adult resignation that touches me every time I read it. For there comes a time when -- though we may still enjoy reading about it -- we no longer expect to find fiery passion and high adventure in our day-to-day lives anymore. That's real, that's natural, and that's sad.
It's rare that a book can be this funny, this accessible to a mass audience, and still this touching. Read it. Read it. Read it.
3. What will read next? A mystery, I think.