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Jackie Under My Skin
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Jackie Under My Skin is a richly original and fascinating investigation into how Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis transformed our definitions of personal identity and style. For thirty years we have lived with our internalized images of "Jackie, " but until now no writer has definitively explored what it feels like to exist in imaginative and heartfelt connection to this ubiquitous icon. In an elegiac gallery of fantasies and tableaux, Wayne Koestenbaum explains the late First Lady's mesmeric hold on America by anatomizing the myths and metaphors that have attached to her. Analyzing her iconography with both passion and precision, he places stories about Jackie - and photos of Jackie - within the context of literature, film, and the idiosyncratic imagination. Following her into America's dreamwork, far from pious "family values, " Wayne Koestenbaum dares to see her as an embodiment of pleasure, a figure of Circean extravagance, and a unique and necessary emblem of that most exhilarating of pursuits: freedom without responsibility.
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About the Author

WAYNE KOESTENBAUM has published five books of poetry, one novel, and six books of nonfiction. A graduate of Harvard and Princeton, he is a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and a Visiting Professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art.

Reviews

A different look at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis from the author of The Queen's Throat (LJ 1/93).

The same kind of serious play that distinguished Koestenbaum's earlier book, The Queen's Throat, a highly regarded study of opera and homosexuality, shapes the Yale English professor's scrutiny of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis‘and, more exactly, of the highly charged gap between the private woman and the public icon she became. In brief chapters, her signature sunglasses and scarf, her coiffure (``battle gear of a woman of means''), even the ``O'' of her name occasion manic, inventive and sometimes wildly funny ruminations. In ``Silent Jackie,'' Maria Callas is quoted as saying that Onassis ``spoke like Marilyn Monroe playing Ophelia''; in ``Jackie as Housewife,'' Onassis is at once the devoted helpmate of powerful men and the star whose allure obscured them; ``Exotic Jackie,'' always conscious of her public role, was ``in exile from herself, a bemused visitor to her own body.'' Though some will undoubtedly find the book hopelessly irreverent, those fascinated by the cult of celebrity will find Koestenbaum's analysis of an enduring American icon a compelling contribution in cultural studies. First serial to the New York Times Magazine; Readers Subscription Book Club selection. (May)

"Pop interpretation at its finest . . . and every bit of it is fun to read." --The Boston Globe "Dazzling, exuberant . . . Koestenbaum writes with a heady lyricism that makes Jackie-watching an exercise of the soul as well as of the intellect." --New York Magazine "Koestenbaum's explanation of the Jackie O phenomenon is as fresh and thought-provoking as they come." --Los Angeles Times "Some of the most entertaining prose in years . . . A thoughtful and unexpectedly moving book." --Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Impassioned insight . . . By turns comic and elegaic, respectful and blasphemous...little or nothing escapes [Koestenbaum's] gaze." --Newsday Pop interpretation at its finest . . . and every bit of it is fun to read. "The Boston Globe" Dazzling, exuberant . . . Koestenbaum writes with a heady lyricism that makes Jackie-watching an exercise of the soul as well as of the intellect. "New York Magazine" Koestenbaum's explanation of the Jackie O phenomenon is as fresh and thought-provoking as they come. "Los Angeles Times" Some of the most entertaining prose in years . . . A thoughtful and unexpectedly moving book. "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" Impassioned insight . . . By turns comic and elegaic, respectful and blasphemous...little or nothing escapes [Koestenbaum's] gaze. "Newsday"" "Pop interpretation at its finest . . . and every bit of it is fun to read."--"The Boston Globe" "Dazzling, exuberant . . . Koestenbaum writes with a heady lyricism that makes Jackie-watching an exercise of the soul as well as of the intellect."--"New York Magazine ""Koestenbaum's explanation of the Jackie O phenomenon is as fresh and thought-provoking as they come."--"Los Angeles Times ""Some of the most entertaining prose in years . . . A thoughtful and unexpectedly moving book."--"Atlanta Journal-Constitution ""Impassioned insight . . . By turns comic and elegaic, respectful and blasphemous...little or nothing escapes [Koestenbaum's] gaze."--"Newsday "

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