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Blonde
     

Blonde

4.5 22
by Joyce Carol Oates, Jayne Atkinson (Narrated by)
 

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One of America’s most acclaimed novelists boldly re-imagines one of America’s most enduring icons in Blonde—the National Book Award-nominated bestseller by Joyce Carol Oates. The legend of Marilyn Monroe—aka Norma Jeane Baker—comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality.

Overview

One of America’s most acclaimed novelists boldly re-imagines one of America’s most enduring icons in Blonde—the National Book Award-nominated bestseller by Joyce Carol Oates. The legend of Marilyn Monroe—aka Norma Jeane Baker—comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality. Marilyn Monroe lives—reborn to tell her untold history; her story of a star created to shine brightest in the Hollywood firmament before her fall to earth. Blonde is a dazzling fictional portrait of the intricate inner life of the idolized and desired movie star as only the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates could paint it.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Bottled Blonde

There is no denying that Marilyn Monroe is one of America's most beloved icons. Still, when the reader is confronted with a massive copy of Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates's fictional retelling of Marilyn Monroe's life, a question does come to mind: What could Oates possibly have written about Monroe's brief life and career that could fill more than 700 pages?

The answer? Sex.

Blonde is one long, racy read. Oates recounts every telling event in the life of Norma Jeane Baker, from her early days with her grandmother to the years spent with her crazy mother to her teenage years in an orphanage and, following her mother's institutionalization, in a foster home. After Norma Jeane's first marriage, the hagiography continues with the birth of "MM," her subsequent marriages, stardom, and the "questionable" circumstances of her death at the age of 36 (not surprisingly, Oates suggests that, rather than succumbing to an accidental overdose, or intentional suicide, Marilyn was murdered). And the thread weaving together all 36 years is sex.

Casting-couch sex is to be expected in a book on or about Marilyn Monroe, and Oates doesn't disappoint. One encounter takes place not on a couch but rather on a white rug during a visit to a famous studio honcho's aviary, which turns out to be nothing more than a few stuffed birds in his office. Marilyn—at once naive and knowing—gets busy with tons of men in Blonde. (Oates tactfully names few outright, preferring instead to use thinly veiled sobriquets like "the Ex-Athlete" or "the Playwright.") There are also countless chapters on lesser-known, yet quite torrid love affairs, including a three-way relationship Marilyn carries on with Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Eddie Robinson Jr. They live and love and drink and do drugs together. Their sex sessions, as re-created by Oates, are heated, fascinating, tangled. They even have a name for themselves: The Gemini. Oates covers all of Marilyn's affairs, including the much-rumored liaison with President Kennedy. In one memorable scene from this era, Oates has the duo shacked up in a New York hotel, the President pressing Marilyn's head down, down, down as he speaks with Castro on the telephone. In this après-Lewinsky era this scenario is neither shocking nor original. But in 1961? Boop-boop-bee-doo!

Oates roots Marilyn's sexuality strongly in her past, beginning with the men she meets while living with her foster family. A teacher. A detective. A few boys her own age. Her foster mother hates the way her husband looks at Norma Jeane's "sweet little ass," so she marries Norma Jeane off at 16 to a lanky boy named Bucky Glazer. Norma's wedding, loss of virginity, and married sex life span chapters. It is hard to imagine Monroe preparing meatloaf dinners for a husband, but Oates makes it believable. Norma and Bucky are doomed from the start. So are Norma and most men. And there are many men. Oates lists pages of lovers taken from the files of the FBI: Robert Mitchum, Eddie Fisher, Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable, Samuel Goldwyn, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, etc.

Marilyn's body makes her irresistible to men. Oates makes this body a character of its own, chronicling its various developmental phases. At first, Marilyn hates her body and the commotion it causes. But gradually she learns to use it, to work it. Sometimes she embraces it. It is a body ravaged by loss, by time, by men. It weathers abortions, miscarriages, multiple drug overdoses, and bleach (the chemicals that create her signature blonde coif sting when applied to pubic hair). Oates pounds home her sexual theme with constant commentary on Marilyn's looks, her breasts, her skin, her ass. Oh, that ass! Oates is unrelenting. Her language and tales are often harsh: Marilyn can't even go to a public theater to watch one of her own movies without drawing the unwelcome attention of a man who masturbates to her image onscreen and off.

Blonde is both an unwieldy and fascinating work. Oates convincingly reduces this larger-than-life movie star to a tiny, broken girl. Oates's Marilyn is truly unwell, in many ways as disturbed as her mother was. Her sexual misadventures and inability to function in any orthodox relationship are clearly tied to her abandonment as a child. She is by turns miserable, unstable, insecure, and delusional. Ultimately, Blonde itself is impressive; an eerie, gossipy, voyeuristic experience. Enticing, but also devastating.

Alexandra Zissu

Alexandra Zissu is a freelance writer and writer-at-large at Fashion Wire Daily. She has written for The New York Observer, The New York Times Styles section, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Self.

Wall Street Journal
Grimly compelling...a portrait of Hollywood as terrifyingly hallucinatory as Nathaniel West's The Day of the Locust.
Los Angeles Times
Atkinson's voice is just this side of sultry.She deftly changes her tone and pacing for other characters in the story...
Bookpage
Jayne Atkinson's performance in this audio presentation adds enormous dimension and depth. Without overacting, without cliche or caricature, she captures Monroe's breathy, hesitating voice and with it captures both the vixen and the victim.
Susan Tekulve
Freeing herself from the confines of a journalistic retelling of well-known facts, Oates masterfully creates a powerful and deeply disturbing American tragedy.
Book Magazine, March/April 2000
Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
Oates tackles the most enduring and evocative cultural icon of the 20th century in this "surreal" historical novel. An "engrossing," unsparing vision of Marilyn Monroe: the child, the girl, the flawed woman, and the fated celebrity, "transforming her from the familiar, flat graphic image Andy Warhol gave us into a multidimensional fictional character." "I was like a dog with a bone - I chewed away all night on the pages of this novel, burning the midnight oil." "Bravo!" "An extraordinary work." A lone dissenter said "tediously factual."
Newsday
Oates may have created the most important novel of her career.
Playboy
A fascinating imagining of the hellish battles that Monroe fought with herself.
Nation
An overwhelmingly vivid and powerful rendering of a human being who outlived her life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Atkinson narrates Oates's fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe in an intense, slightly husky voice that immediately grabs and holds the listener's attention. Film actress Atkinson deftly switches back and forth between Oates's prose, a breathy Monroe (who "comments" periodically throughout the novel), Monroe's brassy mother, Gladys (who soon succumbs to mental illness), and a series of powerful, impatient men who callously exploit the vulnerable young actress. Her only false note is the dialogue of John F. Kennedy, which she reads without any attempt at the president's distinctive Massachusetts accent. Abridging Oates's epic is no small feat, but all the major events in Monroe's life remain in vivid and often heartbreaking detail. The audio also includes an exclusive interview with Oates, who talks about her impressions of Monroe as a person and as an icon, and discusses how she came to write the 700-plus- page novel, which she originally intended as a 175-page novella. Based on the HarperCollins/ Ecco hardcover (Forecasts, Feb. 14). (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Will our fascination with celebrities never cease? Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of Marilyn Monroe biographies. Oates, at least, is not focused on the celebrity but on the frightened, orphaned Norma Jean, a figure perfectly in keeping with other lonely outsiders who populate her fiction. Writing in short sections that carry over extremely well to audio, she's able to achieve segues that add depth to the life being explored and fabricated. Details, images, thoughts, and feelings abound, so credible we forget such insights could not have been known to any biographer. And as to facts, Oates explains in an illuminating interview (included on tape six) that, as a fiction writer, she's able to simplify, combining "several" abortions into one, merging various characters. True, there is no suspense in this audiobook, narrated by Jayne Atkinson: none of the haunting stream-of-consciousness Oates so masterfully placed into Mary Jo Kopechne's mouth in her novella Black Water, but these tapes have much to offer. Considering the book is 768 pages, even die-hard Oates fans might appreciate this adeptly abridged audio version. Recommended, especially for larger collections.--Rochelle Ratner, formerly with"Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Joseph
Blonde is one mighty, tremendous book...Oates has become most like William Faulkner. Every novel is a newly invented form of language, a deepening vision of America. No writer today has today has delved into the mysterious circumstances of being alive at this time in America—explored our entire social strata—to the extent that she has. Oates is perennially mentioned for the Nobel Prize. Blonde, one hopes will be the book that will convince the Swedish academy...
The Nation
Alexandra Zissu
Bottled Blonde

There is no denying that Marilyn Monroe is one of America's most beloved icons. Still, when the reader is confronted with a massive copy of Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates's fictional retelling of Marilyn Monroe's life, a question does come to mind: What could Oates possibly have written about Monroe's brief life and career that could fill more than 700 pages?

The answer? Sex.

Blonde is one long, racy read. Oates recounts every telling event in the life of Norma Jeane Baker, from her early days with her grandmother to the years spent with her crazy mother to her teenage years in an orphanage and, following her mother's institutionalization, in a foster home. After Norma Jeane's first marriage, the hagiography continues with the birth of "MM," her subsequent marriages, stardom, and the "questionable" circumstances of her death at the age of 36 (not surprisingly, Oates suggests that, rather than succumbing to an accidental overdose, or intentional suicide, Marilyn was murdered). And the thread weaving together all 36 years is sex.

Casting-couch sex is to be expected in a book on or about Marilyn Monroe, and Oates doesn't disappoint. One encounter takes place not on a couch but rather on a white rug during a visit to a famous studio honcho's aviary, which turns out to be nothing more than a few stuffed birds in his office. Marilyn -- at once naïve and knowing -- gets busy with tons of men in Blonde. (Oates tactfully names few outright, preferring instead to use thinly veiled sobriquets like "the Ex-Athlete" or "the Playwright.") There are also countless chapters on lesser-known yet quite torrid love affairs, including a three-way relationship Marilyn carries on with Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Eddie Robinson Jr. They live and love and drink and do drugs together. Their sex sessions, as re-created by Oates, are heated, fascinating, tangled. They even have a name for themselves: The Gemini. Oates covers all of Marilyn's affairs, including the much-rumored liaison with President Kennedy. In one memorable scene from this era, Oates has the duo shacked up in a New York hotel, the President pressing Marilyn's head down, down, down as he speaks with Castro on the telephone. In this après-Lewinsky era the scenario is neither shocking nor original. But in 1961? Boop-boop-bee-doo!

Oates roots Marilyn's sexuality strongly in her past, beginning with the men she meets while living with her foster family. A teacher. A detective. A few boys her own age. Her foster mother hates the way her husband looks at Norma Jeane's "sweet little ass," so she marries Norma Jeane off at 16 to a lanky boy named Bucky Glazer. Norma's wedding, loss of virginity, and married sex life span chapters. It is hard to imagine Monroe preparing meatloaf dinners for a husband, but Oates makes it believable. Norma and Bucky are doomed from the start. So are Norma and most men. And there are many men. Oates lists pages of lovers taken from the files of the FBI: Robert Mitchum, Eddie Fisher, Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable, Samuel Goldwyn, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, et cetera.

Marilyn's body makes her irresistible to men. Oates makes this body a character of its own, chronicling its various developmental phases. At first, Marilyn hates her body and the commotion it causes. But gradually she learns to use it, to work it. Sometimes she embraces it. It is a body ravaged by loss, by time, by men. It weathers abortions, miscarriages, multiple drug overdoses, and bleach (the chemicals that create her signature blonde coif sting when applied to pubic hair). Oates pounds home her sexual theme with constant commentary on Marilyn's looks, her breasts, her skin, her ass. Oh, that ass! Oates is unrelenting. Her language and tales are often harsh: Marilyn can't even go to a public theater to watch one of her own movies without drawing the unwelcome attention of a man who masturbates to her image onscreen and off.

Blonde is both an unwieldy and fascinating work. Oates convincingly reduces this larger-than-life movie star to a tiny, broken girl. Oates's Marilyn is truly unwell, in many ways as disturbed as her mother was. Her sexual misadventures and inability to function in any orthodox relationship are clearly tied to her abandonment as a child. She is by turns miserable, unstable, insecure, and delusional. Ultimately, Blonde itself is impressive; an eerie, gossipy, voyeuristic experience. Enticing, but also devastating.

Alexandra Zissu is a freelance writer and writer-at-large at Fashion Wire Daily. She has written for The New York Observer, The New York Times Styles section, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and Self.

Lambda Book Report
This is a big, complex, visionary, imaginative, make-you-sweat-and-whince-while-reading book.
Mary Gaitskill
[This] book is great...it is a powerful work of art...It has the energy and locomotive force of Dickens or Hugo...
Bookforum
Miller
Oates's achievement is remarkable because the immediate, visceral impact of Monroe's image is so very much a phenomenon of film, defying the inward-looking, speculative mind of literature... If a novel can't deliver Monroe's beauty, a force that profoundly shaped how people behaved toward her, it can, better than any film, give us her interior world.
The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780694523122
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/28/2000
Edition description:
Abridged, 6 Cassettes
Pages:
9
Product dimensions:
4.31(w) x 7.11(h) x 1.74(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Child
1932 - 1938

The Kiss

This movie I've been seeing all my life, yet never to its completion.

Almost she might say This movie is my life!

Her mother first took her when she was two or three years old. Her earliest memory, so exciting! Grauman's Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. This was years before she'd been able to comprehend even the rudiments of the movie story, yet she was enthralled by the movement, the ceaseless rippling fluid movement, on the great screen above her. Not yet capable of thinking This was the very universe upon which are projected uncountable unnameable forms of life. How many times in her lost childhood and girlhood she would return with yearning to this movie, recognizing it at once despite the variety of its titles, its many actors. For always there was the Fair Princess. And always the Dark Prince. A complication of events brought them together and tore them apart and brought them together again and again tore them apart until, as the movie neared its end and the movie music soared, they were about to be brought together in a fierce embrace.

Yet not always happily. You couldn't predict. For sometimes one knelt beside the deathbed of the other and heralded death with a kiss. Even if he (or she) survived the death of the beloved, you knew the meaning of life was over.

For there is no meaning to life apart from the movie story.
And there is no movie story apart from the darkened movie theater.

But how vexing, never to see the end of the movie!

For always something went wrong: there was a commotion in the theater and the lights came up; afire alarm (but no fire? or was there a fire? once, she was sure she smelled smoke) sounded loudly and everyone was asked to leave, or she was herself late for an appointment and had to leave, or maybe she fell asleep in her seat and missed the ending and woke dazed as the lights came up and strangers around her rose to leave.

Over, it's over? But bow can it be over?

Yet as an adult woman she continued to seek out the movie. Slipping into theaters in obscure districts of the city or in cities unknown to her. Insomniac, she might buy a ticket for a midnight show. She might buy a ticket for the first show of the day, in the late morning. She wasn't fleeing her own life (though her life had grown baffling to her, as adult life does to those who live it) but instead easing into a parenthesis within that life, stopping time as a child might arrest the movement of a clock's hands: by force. Entering the darkened theater (which sometimes smelled of stale popcorn, the hair lotion of strangers, disinfectant), excited as a young girl looking up eagerly to see on the screen yet again Oh, another time! one more time! the beautiful blond woman who seems never to age, encased in flesh like any woman and yet graceful as no ordinary woman could be, a powerful radiance shining not only in her luminous eyes but in her very skin. For my, skin is my soul. There is no soul otherwise. You see in me the promise of human joy. She who slips into the theater, choosing a seat in a row, near the screen, gives herself unquestioningly up to the movie that's both familiar and unfamiliar as a recurring dream imperfectly recalled. The costumes of the actors, the hairstyles, even the faces and voices of the movie people change with the years, and she can remember, not clearly but in fragments, her own lost emotions, the loneliness of her childhood only partly assuaged by the looming screen. Another world to live in. Where? There was a day, an hour, when she realized that the Fair Princess, who is so beautiful because she is so beautiful and because she is the Fair Princess, is doomed to seek, in others' eyes, confirmation of her own being. For we are not who we are told we are, if we are not told. Are we?

Adult unease and gathering terror.

The movie story is complicated and confusing, though familiar or almost familiar. Perhaps it's carelessly spliced together. Perhaps it's meant to tease. Perhaps there are flashbacks amid present time. Or flash-forwards! Closeups of the Fair Princess seem too intimate. We want to stay on the outsides of others, not be drawn inside. If I could say, There! that's me! That woman, that thing on the screen, that's who I am. But she can't see ahead to the ending. Never has she seen the final scene, never the concluding credits rolling past. In these, beyond the final movie kiss, is the key to the movie's mystery, she knows. As the body's organs, removed in an autopsy, are the key to the life's mystery.

But there will be a time maybe this very evening when, slightly out of breath, she settles into a worn, soiled plush seat in the second row of an old theater in a derelict district of the city, the floor curving beneath her feet like the earth's curve and sticky against the soles of her expensive shoes; and the audience is scattered, mostly solitary individuals; and she's relieved that, in her disguise (dark glasses, an attractive wig, a raincoat) no one will recognize her and no one from her life knows she's here, or could guess where she might be. This time I will see it through to the end. This time! Why? She has no idea. And in fact she's expected elsewhere, she's hours late, possibly a car was scheduled to take her to the airport, unless she's days late, weeks late; for she's become, as an adult, defiant of time. For what is time but others' expectations of us? That game we can refuse to play. So too, she's noticed, the Fair Princess is confused by time. Confused by the movie story. You take your cues from other people.

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Princeton, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
June 16, 1938
Place of Birth:
Lockport, New York
Education:
B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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Blonde 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marilyn became a legend because of her beauty and sex appeal. But the real girl-woman couldn't compete with herself. She never found true peace and happiness. Always it was her body and looks she perceived as her only asset, although there is evidence that she was a very intelligent woman. Locked within herself, with a lack of self esteem she was always on a collision course with herself which ultimately led to her untimely death. Joyce Carol Oates writes this book so powerfully you think you are actually living Marilyn's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a totally absorbing, riveting book. Never had much interest in Marilyn Monroe before, but I sure do now! The author, I presume, loosely based the narrative on actual facts of the star's life, and I want to believe that many of the details--although enhanced--are grounded in fact. (A check on her biography confirms that many of the events brought out in the book are true.) Norma (aka Marilyn) is revealed as a flawed, but totally human, compassionate, sensitive woman. I was shocked at the sadness of her life but glad I got to know this heretofore stereotyped image of the screen star. As always, Joyce Carol Oates delivered. This will rank among my favorites, along with "They Were the Mulvaneys."
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this book; I like Joyce Carol Oates, and the reviews for Blonde were outstanding. Instead, I found myself reading pages and pages of the description of 'Norma Jeane's' first period that sounded like it came straight out of Stephen King's 'Carrie.' Boring, been there done that--the shock of the blood, how men would now be able to sniff her out, blah blah blah. There was also nothing new in the descriptions of life in the orphanage, life in foster homes. Wondering why everyone made such a fuss over this snoozer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not up to Oats' speed. Seemed like typical trashy sensationalism.
ajWA More than 1 year ago
Joyce Carol Oates is one hell of a writer, so she was not daunted by the idea of tackling the life of Marilyn Monroe. She lays it all out on the page, being a bit coy with actual names but anyone can tell what or whom she is referring to. Oates gets behind (or underneath) the facade of this enigmatic movie star, and leaves the reader with a feeling of understanding, empathy, and pity for Marilyn. Marilyn's childhood and desperate clawing to the top of filmdom are described in detail, and her marriages (with DiMaggio and Arthur Miller)make sense, for once. The addictions to pills and the behavioral quirks of her late career are also sympathetically explained.
gisela521 More than 1 year ago
Excellent service, highly recomended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Susan88 More than 1 year ago
Joyce is an amazing writer, she turns her novels and everything else she writes into an unforgettable piece of work. Blonde is her personal version of the woman who came to be known as Marilyn Monroe. This book is much more than the superficial tid-bits that the gossip column produces, it reaches into the depths of who she really was and what were some of the events that made Marilyn the kind of woman she was. From childhood to failed relationships and fame this book has a little of everything, you will soon be feeling that it's actually true and not a work of fiction. Although a bit of a lengthy book, it is well worth the effort. Once you get started it will be hard to put this book down, so go ahead get in a guilty pleasure pick up this book- believe me it's better than the tabloid magazines everyone is drawn to at the check out lanes!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I have always loved Joyce Carol Oates but was slightly wary of reading an entire novel of hers as opposed to the short stories that I am used to. Once I began this novel about 'Marilyn,' however, I could not stop! Oates takes you into the world of 'Marilyn' in such a way that, when you do manage to put the book down, your mind is racing just like Norma's does. You become completly engrossed in the life of the woman that became 'Marilyn Monroe.' I loved this book and suggest that everyone with a love for this famous and infamous actress read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was very well written and you come away feelign like you really knew Norma Jeane, and how she wasn't all abotu sex and money at all, which is what most people like to think. And despite what one critci has said of this novel it is not all about sex, there is no more sex in it than in any other adult book. It really engrossed me and I'd read for such long stretches of time I'd come away with a tension headache, and a little confused about who I was because I got so into the character of Norma Jeane.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! I love the way JCO writes, jumbled, and the story was enticing! I would just like to comment, though, that if anyone should give a book review, they should try reading the entire book first and not just read the first few chapters. There is no way anyone could make a good book review like that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever read! It's stunning. Joyce Carol Oates creates a kind of mytical atmosphere in this book, something that makes its sometimes very raw and merciless bits of reality stand out even more. And the way she is treated by men... This is a book that can tell you somthing abouty people: how little we really know about each other, and that someone's outsides can be so totally different from their insides. We never really know each other. My heart aches with the Marilyn of this book. How close she comes to the real Marilyn I guess we'll never know, but it seems real. Perhaps even too real. This Norma Jean/Marilyn is such a lonely and desperate person. That was something that struck me: she was always alone, her whole life. Always alone. I guess we all are, in a way. Every man an island, as they say, and in her case it was very true. ...............If you have anything to say to me about this book, please email me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Blond" is one of the best books I ever read!! I felt so close with Norma Jean, and so it seemed I could feel her pain. Norma Jean Baker was a very talented person, but sadly, so many people took advantage of her. She is my idol. The author of this book told Norma Jean's life struggle with a lot of dignity!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A life filled with so many struggles, disappointments, heartaches and turmoil unfolded right in front of me. I now have a new appreciation for the woman behind the mask of Marilyn Monroe!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fascination with Marilyn, and a love the author's previous books led me to get this off my shelf and read it. Full of imagined details of Norma Jeane's life, the book puts a realistic spin on a fairy tale, or perhaps, a nightmare existence. I recommend it, not to everyone, because it is over 700 pages, but if you like Marilyn, read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You have to hand it to the author. She aptly performs the magical task of breathing life (again) into this manifestation of a woman. Oates realistically portrays Marilyn Monroe as a creation of THE STUDIO using the gifts, attributes, and resources of this marvel as if they were parts of other people made to move and act and talk like their creation.(MM) As I began this book, I found myself (a man) suddenly robed in Norma Jeane's skin. It was as if a spell was cast and I WAS her. Again and again as I read this book,I found myself so absorbed it was like each time I did so, it was not possible to read and not BECOME the girl-woman. So fragile she was, and in so many ways stronger than any man I know. I hated to finish this book. I read slower and slower toward the end, savoring each sentence like dope. I will never sell my copy, as I intend on revisiting this book like a dear friend. Thank you Joyce Carol Oates for this wonder titled BLONDE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read books about Marilyn Monroe before, but this is the first time that I felt I actually knew more about her. The voice Oates gives Monroe is haunting and very believable. If the actress was anything like this book about her, I can see why the audiences were mesmerized.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In an awesome undertaking, Joyce Carol Oates, one of America's most prolific literary writers, has revived Marilyn Monroe, one of Hollywood's enduring legends, in her newest novel, 'Blonde.' As you might expect, Oates has used biographical and autobiographical sources, historic information, and even FBI reports to create a provocative and theoretical narrative of arguably America's first SUPER superstar. What you may not expect is how far Oates goes to expand her theories. Oates considers the life of Norma Jean Baker from her shady upbringing to her even more uncertain death. Oates details her youthful years in a foster home, her arranged teenage marriage, and her escalating career as poster girl, model, and actress. She examines the creation and marketing of Marilyn Monroe against a backdrop of Hollywood in the 1940's and 50's and tells to what extent this icon is both sustained and abused. As Oates illustrates the machinations of her professional life, she incorporates Marilyn's excessive drug use and her numerous and sordid love affairs. Oates' attempt to get into Marilyn's mind to determine her motivation is unsettling but feasible. Details of her sexual habits, however, are problematical. What miraculous feat Oates performs best is portraying Marilyn's incentives as being contradictory throughout the stages in her life. Working within the boundaries of historic detail, Oates presents Marilyn as someone who could be thoughtful and shy or outspoken and vulgar. According to Oates, Marilyn craved a quiet life, but she obviously fed off the public one. Allegedly fearful of ridicule and failure, it seemed there were times when she actually invited them. Most noteworthy is Oates' line of reasoning that Marilyn was a tormented genius, not the bubble-headed bleached blonde she occasionally portrayed. The character sketches Oates creates of many notable personalities are shrewd and intriguing, especially those of husbands Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. Although Oates writes that her novel 'is not intended as a historic document,' Marilyn Monroe is given breath and a pulse in these pages and much of 'Blonde' seems oddly true. As a novel, it is much like Marilyn herself: dazzling and hypnotic. You just can't take your eyes off it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
BLONDE shows Oates at her best--dramatic, daring, pulling out all the stops. This recreation of a young girl/woman's sensibility and the people who exploit her is mesmerizing. A masterpiece!