Carly Simon is writing memoir of her friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The book, to be titled Touched by the Sun, will be published on Oct. 22 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
“How do you write about a close friend?” Carly Simon muses in her new book, “Touched by the Sun: My Friendship with Jackie” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), out Tuesday. (The NewYork Post)
Simon and Onassis met at a party on Martha’s Vineyard and began what is described in a press release as an “improbable, but lasting friendship.” The release describes the book as “an intimate, vulnerable, and insightful portrait of the bond that grew between two iconic and starkly different American women.”
In a statement regarding the forthcoming work, Simon said, “When I first met Jackie, I didn’t imagine we had that much in common, much less expect her to become my book editor, confidant, protective mother figure, and mischievous pal. She arrived when I least expected to make a new friend and she stayed up
It’s hard to believe she’d welcome this book, even though it comes 25 years after her death, of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, at 64.
When you worship the sun, you often get burnt. Early in their relationship, Jackie, by then a book editor, contracts with Simon to do a children’s book, and asks the singer to name her price. She does, only to have Jackie tell her, years later, that the $25,000 she requested was chicken feed.
Simon seems oblivious to the fact that Onassis lowballed her on a book deal, then admitted it.Getty Images
“Carly, you were screwed,” Jackie says. Never mind that it was she who did the screwing.
As she downs her wine and explores the bread basket, Simon’s heart races. She wonders if Jackie’s stood her up. What if she’d changed her mind about her, “decided I wasn’t worth knowing further?” Frantic, she runs to the bathroom, locks herself in a stall and pops a Valium.
Jackie arrives at last, having been stuck in an elevator. She laughs it off, while Simon dissolves with relief. Her neediness knows no bounds.
When Jackie asks Simon to find a band to play daughter Caroline Kennedy’s wedding, the musician is not only flattered, but grateful. She books the band and even sings with them. It never occurs to her how canny Jackie was to snag a Grammy- and Oscar-winning artist for free.
Years later, Simon scours the city to find the only movie theater not showing Oliver Stone’s “JFK.” After meeting Jackie in the ladies’ room — where the former first lady waited in a stall for Simon’s all-clear whistle — the two settle in to watch “Bugsy.”
Just before the film starts, Simon asks her pal if she’ll ever see “JFK.”
“No, Carly, NO,” Jackie responds, and slumps into her seat.
That scene, raw and achingly real, is a rare moment in a book full of details that feel borrowed or apocryphal: the alligator scrotums used to upholster the bar stools of Onassis’ yacht; Jackie’s reaction to the fuss Simon was making over having the Clintons to dinner.
“Oh, Carly, for Christ’s sake,” the former first lady supposedly cried, “it’s just another president!”
After all is said and sung, Jackie remains elusive, a mystery wrapped in an enigma. And Simon knows it.
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