Excerpt from Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Jackie & Me

by Louis Bayard

Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard X
Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2022, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 13, 2023, 368 pages

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I mutter something on the order of yes, I must be, and she smiles. A wider smile than I would have guessed possible. The eyes even wider. Goat's eyes, that's my first churlish thought, or a madwoman's, but maybe that's to forestall the sense that I'm being seen through a wider lens. All in all, there's a certain relief in being able to retreat into the Crestline's back seat. A planetarium-like darkness, with the two of them swimming like moons. She has dabbed herself with Chateau Krigler 12 (I consider telling her it's my mother's favorite), and there is the complicating counter-aroma of Pall Malls, and somewhere at the back, simple bovine perspiration. For the first time, I begin to wonder if Miss Bouvier is nervous—though it's difficult to confirm because she has a small voice and the wind seems to slap every word back down her gullet. Her general lilt, as best I can tell, is interrogative, but why should that be a surprise? Girls in these days are instructed to shoot out a clean, firm thread of inquiry at all times. The more interested they appear to be, the more the boys will understand they don't have to be, in themselves, interesting, which is a relief to both parties. Jackie, I imagine, is now asking the name of Bobby's daughter or wondering if Eunice will be there and which one is Pat? For all I know, she's speculating about the Washington Senators' pennant chances. If pressed, she'll fall back on the weather. How chilly it is for March.

The point is there's no way of knowing what they're saying, and Jack sometimes gets cross if I talk too much with his dates (unless I'm doing something useful like showing them the door). Nothing for it, then, but to watch Miss Bouvier's head—under the weight of her impending introduction to the Kennedy clan—loll ever so gradually to the right.

It's when we're crossing back over Chain Bridge that she rouses herself to ask: "Jack, what color is your car?"

Queer question. But then I realize she's never seen Jack's car (or Jack himself, maybe) in the naked light of day.

"I don't know," he mumbles. "Red."

"Pomegranate," I say.

Something quickens in the column of her neck. By easy degrees, she turns around and bestows on me a fuller version of that first smile. Then she leans toward Jack and, in a whisper stagy enough for me to hear, says, "I like your friend."

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Excerpted from Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard. Copyright © 2022 by Louis Bayard. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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