American adulterer

What a great title! It’s a new novel by Jed Mercurio that is a sort of biography of John F. Kennedy. The idea behind it is to look at the man and the politician and what made him tick.

As the title suggests, sex was something significant for JFK and, unlike the more devious William Jefferson Clinton, he did inhale, so to speak. The novel observes him in a rather cool clinical manner and it allows us to see a full portrait of him in terms of his politics, his health, his marriage and his sex life. It has always puzzled me why people have pointed the finger in a censorious manner: how many people would have ladies like Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson, Jayne Mansfield, etc., make themselves so available and be able to say “Go away Marilyn, you wicked temptress.” Of course, looked at now, the way he used women as quick relief (attractive young interns on standby, going on the plane and not recalling if the hostess was one he’d had a quick one with previously), was sexist in the extreme. The worst part of all this is the slimy character of Sinatra who was a JFK supporter until his mob connections meant that JFK had to distance himself. Sinatra and his Rat Pack Pal, Peter Lawford, married to JFK’s sister, pimped for the President in that he’d see a young actress in a movie and angle for the Rat Packers to arrange an introduction.

JFK’s health was dreadful and a lot of mileage is given to all his ailments and he had a fair few. His marriage is interestingly handled and Jackie emerges as a cool customer who realised what she had let herself in for and lived with it. His love for his children and his absolute conviction on issues (race, equality in general) is handled well. Overall this is a riveting novel, quite touching at times and very good in its picture of a very complex man who died too young.

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