Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm Thinking About a Book...

Today, the Very Short List featured this book: American Adulterer by Jed Mercurio. Here's what VSL has to say in its write-up:
"John F. Kennedy reportedly once remarked that if he didn't 'have a woman' for three days, he'd suffer terrible headaches. In the mesmerizing new novel American Adulterer... those insatiable urges have inspired a fascinating—if fictionalized—profile of our 35th president.

"Mercurio adopts a clinical tone—referring to the president throughout as 'the subject'—painstakingly detailing Kennedy's chronic back pain and stomach ailments alongside his almost pathological philandering. But the book never descends into the sordid; in fact, what emerges is a poignant and empathetic portrait of a hero with a particular tragic flaw. Marilyn, Frank, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Kennedy's feelings about his country and children are all accounted for. But, considering its detached tone, the novel surprises in being both darkly funny and incredibly moving—particularly when it comes to the first lady, the only woman, among the (very) many, who can lay claim to the president's heart."
I'm thinking that this is something that might be right up my ally because I loved (loved, loved, loved) American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, which was a fictionalized account of the life of Laura Bush (and by association of marriage, some related presidents and former presidents and first ladies). Also, I recently read and loved (loved, loved) Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield which has a chapter dedicated to Jackie O. (nee Bouvier, nee Kennedy) about her life immediately after JFK's death that was really interesting and made me want to read some more about her life.

But, that's the rub. I think I liked American President so much because I'm an adult in the Bush era, but I was born well after Kennedy died, and (frankly) don't know very much about him as a person. Will that affect my reading of American Adulterer? Will that be a negative effect or postive effect? Should I try it anyway?

Please share your thoughts on my reading-related dilemma in the comments.

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