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Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters

Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters

4.0 35
by Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal (Editor), Bernard Comment (Editor), Isabel Keating (Read by)

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Fragments is an event—an unforgettable book that will redefine one of the greatest icons of the twentieth century and that, nearly fifty years after her death, will definitively reveal Marilyn Monroe’s humanity.

Marilyn’s image is so universal that we can’t help but believe we know all there is to know of her. Every word and gesture


Fragments is an event—an unforgettable book that will redefine one of the greatest icons of the twentieth century and that, nearly fifty years after her death, will definitively reveal Marilyn Monroe’s humanity.

Marilyn’s image is so universal that we can’t help but believe we know all there is to know of her. Every word and gesture made headlines and garnered controversy. Her serious gifts as an actor were sometimes eclipsed by her notoriety—and by the way the camera fell helplessly in love with her.

Beyond the headlines—and the too-familiar stories of heartbreak and desolation—was a woman far more curious, searching, witty, and hopeful than the one the world got to know. Now, for the first time, readers can meet the private Marilyn and understand her in a way we never have before. Fragments is an unprecedented collection of written artifacts—notes to herself, letters, even poems—in Marilyn’s own handwriting, never before published, along with rarely seen intimate photos.

Jotted in notebooks, typed on paper, or written on hotel letterhead, these texts reveal a woman who loved deeply and strove to perfect her craft. They show a Marilyn Monroe unsparing in her analysis of her own life, but also playful, funny, and impossibly charming. The easy grace and deceptive lightness that made her performances indelible emerge on the page, as does the simmering tragedy that made her last appearances so affecting.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Isabel Keating is a fine mimic of the Marilyn we know from the movies—it’s the same breathy, cotton-candy douceur, the voice lilting with wonderment, the same rounded consonants, the trill at the end of sentences. She sounds like a precocious child, very earnestly doing the introspective self-searching homework that the Strasberg method demanded. As seamless is Keating’s channeling of Monroe; it would have been a pleasure to glimpse the voice behind the baby voice, the woman behind the mask. The content is fragmentary, but there is delight in this picture of the icon as more sincere, striving, intellectually ambitious, and perceptive than we’d ever have guessed. A Farrar, Straus, and Giroux hardcover. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Some 50 years after Marilyn Monroe's tragic death, her private life continues to fascinate. This audio exposes her innermost thoughts through recorded selections from her journal entries, poems, and occasionally rambling notes, revealing a thoughtful yet insecure and vulnerable woman. Monroe reflects on the moments of joy and turmoil in her life, including the breakup of her marriage to the late playwright Arthur Miller. Introductions provide listeners with background information. Actress Isabel Keating does a superb job of channeling Monroe with her breathy narration. While this audio version has an intimate feel, however, audiences should not miss the numerous photos, handwritten notes, letters, and diary entries available in the Farrar hc, only some of which—via a bonus PDF—are available here. Recommended wherever the print edition is in demand.—Risa Getman, Hendrick Hudson Free Lib., Montrose, NY
Liesl Schillinger
Sentences trail across the page, then merge in clumps, like paper airplanes tossed into a net; multiple cross-outs, repetitions and misspellings make them a challenge to decipher. Nonetheless, a certain potency resides in their runic quality…Passionate decoders of the Monroe legacy will have a field day.
—The New York Times
From the Publisher

“There is delight in this picture of the icon as more sincere, striving, intellectually ambitious, and perceptive than we'd ever have guessed.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sentences trail across the page, then merge in clumps, like paper airplanes tossed into a net; multiple cross-outs, repetitions and misspellings make them a challenge to decipher. Nonetheless, a certain potency resides in their runic quality…Passionate decoders of the Monroe legacy will have a field day..” —The New YorkTimes

Product Details

Macmillan Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 4.90(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters

By Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal, Bernard Comment

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2010 LSAS International, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8840-7




Norma Jeane married James Dougherty when she turned sixteen, the age of consent in California, on June 19, 1942, thereby escaping the threat of being returned to an orphanage when her foster family moved out of state. Dougherty was born in April 1921 and was five years older than she was. At the end of 1943, the young couple settled for a few months on Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, a fashionable resort before the war. It is likely that this long note, uncharacteristically typed, was written at this time. One can't help being surprised, even impressed, by the maturity of this seventeen-year-old girl, whose feelings of disillusionment are plain from the first sentence, as she examines her marriage and what she expects from life, and faces the fear of her husband's betrayal. Nevertheless, the disjointedness of the text reveals turbulent emotions. The "other woman" she mentions might be a reference to Doris Ingram, her young husband's former girlfriend and a Santa Barbara beauty queen. The couple were divorced on September 13, 1946.


Marilyn Monroe wrote poemlike texts or fragments on loose-leaf paper and in notebooks. She showed her work only to intimate friends, in particular to Norman Rosten, a college friend of Arthur Miller with whom she became very close. A Brooklyn-based novelist, he encouraged Marilyn to continue writing. In the book he wrote about her (Marilyn Among Friends), he concluded, "She had the instinct and reflexes of the poet, but she lacked the control."

It is likely that the poetic form, or more generally the fragment, allowed her to express short, lightning bursts of feeling — but who could hear that frail voice, the very opposite of the radiant star? Arthur Miller wrote strikingly: "To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes."

    Life —
    I am of both of your directions
    Somehow remaining hanging downward
    the most
    but strong as a cobweb in the
    wind — I exist more with the cold glistening frost.
    But my beaded rays have the colors I've
    seen in a paintings — ah life they
    have cheated you

Note: Marilyn apparently wrote several variations on the theme of the twofold course of life ("life in both directions") and the delicate, sometimes invisible "cobweb," revealed by dew and resistant to wind — in particular a poem entitled "To the Weeping Willow" that was published in Norman Rosten's book about Marilyn: "I stood beneath your limbs / And you flowered and finally / clung to me, / and when the wind struck with the earth / and sand — you clung to me. / Thinner than a cobweb I, / sheerer than any — / but it did attach itself / and held fast in strong winds / life — of which at singular times / I am both of your directions — / somehow I remain hanging downward the most, / as both of your directions pull me."

    Oh damn I wish that I were
    dead — absolutely nonexistent —
    gone away from here — from
    everywhere but how would I do it
    There is always bridges — the Brooklyn
    bridge — no not the Brooklyn Bridge
    becauseBut I love that bridge (everything is beautiful from there
    and the air is so clean) walking it seems
    peacefulthere even with all those
    cars going crazy underneath. So
    it would have to be some other bridge
    an ugly one and with no view — except
    Iparticularly like in particular all bridges — there's some
    thing about them and besides these I've
    never seen an ugly bridge

    Stones on the walk
    every color there is
    I stare down at you
    like those the a horizon —
    the space / the air is between us beckoning
    and I am many stories besides up
    my feet are frightened
    from my as I grasp for towards you

    Only parts of us will ever
    touch only parts of others —
    one's own truth is just
    that really — one's own truth.
    We can only share the
    part that is understood by within another's knowing acceptable to
    the other — therefore so one
    is for most part alone.
    As it is meant to be in evidently in nature — at best though perhaps it could make
    our understanding seek
    another's loneliness out.

    I can't really stand Human
    Beings sometimes — I know
    they all have their problems
    as I have mine — but I'm really too tired for it. Trying to understand,
    making allowances, seeing certain things
    that just weary me.

    On Hospital gowns

    My bare
    (darrie) derrire
    is out the air
    in the air
    when I'm not aware
    Handel Concertos
    Vivaldi Concertos
    Benny Goodman

    My (pair)

    Last 6 — quartets
    Ravel — the Waltz
    Bartok — quartets of his
    continued on other side
    of list of records



As she often did, Marilyn filled only a few pages of this notebook, about twelve out of the hundred and fifty it contains and at obviously distinct periods. The first pages open with a heartfelt "Alone!!!" followed by reflections on fear and feelings that can't be put into words; these were probably jotted down in response to acting classes, which may have been those given by Michael Chekhov that she started attending in September 1951. On page 135 of the notebook, there is a poignant text about the panicky fear that sometimes overtook her when she was about to shoot a scene because of her dread of disappointing; her deep-seated sense that, despite the good work she had done, the bad outweighed it, sapping her confidence. Here the language is very strong: "depressed mad."

On page 146, she jotted down in pencil one of the few lines she delivered in Love Nest (1951), a film by Joseph M. Newman, in the supporting but nonetheless crucial role of Roberta Stevens, who was the former wartime (girl?)friend of the hero, Jim Scott. The notes on pages 148 and 149 of the notebook indicate diligent reading on the Florentine Renaissance, unless they are class notes from courses she attended at UCLA in the fall of 1950, after she had already begun acting in films. However, this school-like exercise is surrounded by an older story that most likely preceded her star status, as she writes of traveling in a crowded bus. Could this have been the same bus in which she met sixty likable Italian sailors, then a headily perfumed Filipino boy, ending up, half-crushed by a sleeping five-year-old almost slipping from his young mother's arms, in the middle of sailors far too young to feel sad?

    I am alone — I am always
    no matter what.

    Look Mag
    Hu 27291
    Rupert Allan

    There is nothing to fear
    but fear itself
    What do I believe in
    What is truth
    I believe in myself
    even my most delicate
    intangible feelings
    in the end everything is
    my most precious liquid must
    never spill don't spill your precious liquid
    life force
    they are all my feelings
    no matter what

    My feeling doesn't
    happen to swell
    into words —

Note: Rupert Allan met Marilyn in 1959. As the West Coast editor of Look magazine, he had secured Marilyn her first cover photo, which appeared on June 3, 1952. This may explain her reference "Look Mag." Subsequently, Rupert Allan became Marilyn's press agent and remained such up until the end of the filming of The Misfits, when he accepted Grace Kelly's offer to work for her in Monaco.

    Actress must have no mouth
    no feet
    shoulder girdle hangs light
    focus my thought on
    the partner —
    feeling in the end of
    my fingers

    Nothing must come
    between me and my
    part — my feeling —
    The feeling only
    getting rid of everything
    my mind speaks
    no looks
    body only
    letting go — face feeling

    no attitude
    listening to the body for
    the feeling
    listen with the eyes
    loose — having no brakes
    letting go of everything.
    feeling only — all I have to
    do is think it. How do
    I hear the melody — the
    Tone springs from emotion
    Tone — groans and moans — "I'm (animals — "down to the hogs")
    so sick" — hums from
    with cat — hum — nice kitty soft.

    starts from below my feet
    feet — all in my feet.

    What is my pantomime playing with
    How is my head?

    as if I might never
    speak move

    letting go.
    down down in back.
    pulling up from here.
    right tension stomach
    [illegible] only

    Fear of giving me the lines new
    maybe won't be able to learn them
    maybe I'll make mistakes
    people will either think I'm no good or
    laugh or belittle me or think I can't act.
    Women looked stern and critical —
    unfriendly and cold in general
    afraid director won't think I'm any good.
    remembering when I couldn't do a god
    damn thing.

    then trying to build myself up with the
    fact that I have done things right that
    were even good and have had moments
    that were excellent but the bad is heavier
    to carry around and feel have no confidence
    depressed mad

    Pardon me
    are you the janitor's

    caught a Greyhound
    Bus from Monterey
    to Salinas. On the
    Bus I was the only person
    woman with about
    sixty italian fishermen
    and I've never met
    sixty such charming gentlemen — they
    were wonderful. Some
    company was sending them
    downstate where their boats
    and (they hoped) fish were
    waiting for them. Some
    could hardly speak english
    not only do I love Greeks
    [illegible] I love Italians.
    they're so warm, lusty and friendly
    as hell — I'd love to go to
    Italy someday.


The sentence of the notebook is one of the few lines Marilyn had to say in Love Nest (1951), so we may assume that these notes — at any rate, the ones written in pencil — date from the same period.

In February 1948, Marilyn went to the California towns of Salinas and Castroville in order to promote diamond sales in two jewelry stores. She stayed at the Jeffery Hotel in Salinas for a week.

    Medici 1400 AD–1748
    Prototype — first type
    Giovanni di Bicci first foundling home
    Bronze doors in the
    in Florence 1424
    Ghiberti 23 perspective
    used his great architect
    Brunelleschi 22
    Donatello 1386–1466
    Masaccio 1401–1428 father of modern art (reality
    poverty careless about his painting)
    life except his painting —
    Giovanni di Bicci responsible
    for him. His work never recognized
    until after his death.
    The Pantheon — temple
    Greek philosophy — golden mean
    (neither too big — or too small)
    kept ousted old pope
    gave money for temples for Brunelleschi
    elected him Signoria
    Gonfaloniere (governing body)
    Grande — nobles

    Macchiavelli (1469–1527) Botticelli

    damn near broke my back
    and dislocated my neck trying not to
    sleep all over the filipino boy
    Moved my seat when a
    [illegible] left the bus — the
    only empty seat so
    I left mine for so the
    girl could sit her kid
    down and I took the
    other seat. It was next to
    a filipino boy and
    he smelled good like


Excerpted from Fragments by Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal, Bernard Comment. Copyright © 2010 LSAS International, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Marilyn Monroe was the defining actress of her age. Born in Los Angeles in 1926, Monroe first gained notice for small but memorable roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve in 1950. Over the next decade, she starred in numerous films, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Seven Year Itch. Acclaimed for these and many other performances, Monroe also studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. She died in 1962.

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Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
LizTea More than 1 year ago
I want to start off by saying that I can't really give this book any kind of true rating. There are hardly words to describe this book, much less a handful of stars. It's a rare thing when I pick up a non-fiction title, but when it contains Marilyn Monroe, I have to make an exception. Fragments is a beautiful book, full of her original thoughts, poems, and letters. It's unlike any Marilyn biography out there, because it is her. From the minute you see the first letter, you can just feel her coming off the page. She's there in every misspelled word and scratched out sentence. If you like your Marilyn as the picture of blonde perfection, this is definitely not for you. There's a real pain and humanity in her words, the overwhelming need to be loved and accepted. She was witty, shy, vulnerable, innocent, and remarkable. This is essential for any fan of the true Marilyn Monroe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very difficult to read the original pages that were typed by Marilyn Monroe because the original typed pages are scanned into the book and the print is very small. Because the pages are scanned, the font can't be increased nor can the page be enlarged. I was very disappointed
jblickman More than 1 year ago
Her public persona was that of the blonde bombshell Hollywood star. She was married to the great Yankee baseball star Joe Dimaggio and famed play write Arthur Miller. She appeared to have lived a life most could only dream of, but behind the public persona was a tortured soul. This books brings to light fragments of Marilyn's diaries, letters and poems that have never been published along with some rare photographs that provide a unique look into Marilyn's private thoughts and psyche. I was skeptical that this book would be anything more than an attempt to capitalize on Marilyn's legend with a few scraps of her writings. I was wrong there is much of interest here, and perhaps some added layers of mystery to the ending of her life. This book should be interest to all fans of Marilyn Monroe. I also have to recommend "Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost LOOK Photos (Calla Editions)" for an amazing collecting of never before published, candid photographs of Marilyn at the height of her career; and "Misfits Country" for a look behind the scenes of the making of her final Film.
vintagevocalist More than 1 year ago
Marilyn Monroe has become known as one of, if not THE sex symbol of the 20th century. Though on screen, she often portrayed a "dumb blonde", she was extremely intelligent and constantly reading. She also wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, not just be a beauty to all of those she encountered. While some may find her acting not very great, perhaps after reading this book and her thoughts on acting, your perception may change. She constantly worked on perfecting her craft, and that is shown within this book. She also yearned for an understanding of herself in a way, and her notes of self-analysis aren't something to miss. Her poetry is very unique, I like it very much. It shows the fight for understanding. All in all, this book should not be passed up. It features rare photographs and a look into a very complex person. Behind the glitz and glamour, we are finally able to see a glimpse of the real Marilyn Monroe. Her life and untimely death are surrounded in mystery. Perhaps now, we may find answers.
charbear427 More than 1 year ago
This was a huge disappointment on my NookColor most of Marilyn's original letters are unreadable...what I was able to read was interesting but since the book is only 83 pages for $14.99 it was a rip off. There should be a disclaimer that it's not recommended for Nook users. I am sure the book it self is wonderful unfortunately I was unable to enjoy on my NC
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Monroe lovers, you must get this book! A truly stunning insight into the poetic talent and inquisative mind of Ms. Marilyn Monroe. Love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She was taken advantage of, in my opinion, from men and women who didnt really know how intellegent she was. In an era where men ruled. She knew she had to hide that wonderful mind and act like a dumb blonde if she wanted to go anywhere in this movie industry...how sad, how these people could not see this remarkable, kind, lady. Only to be used, by small minded people. I didnt know her. I feel so sorry for her, too bad she didnt have a child to love her! I am sure Joe Di Maggio was the only one who really did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a huge Marilyn Monroe fan it's fabulous to see these entries in her own handwriting. This shows a side to her that was heard about but never proven until now. So glad these fragments have come to light!
91KrissyHop More than 1 year ago
Not a lot of people know much about Monroe's deeply personal life. This book sheds some light on it. The poems that she had written show a more vulnerable and emotional side of her. She wasn't just Marilyn Monroe, she was still a woman, who had normal problems like the rest of us. The only bad thing about this book is the cohesion. The dates are disjointed and some of the writing is hard to understand. Its entitled Fragments, I think because a lot of what she wrote were fragments. I don't think she ever finished her thoughts entirely. Overall though, it is a good read. If you're a Marilyn Monroe fan, you'll enjoy.
CEB3187 More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading Marilyn Monroe's brand new autobiography "Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters". Bought is this morning and started reading it when I got off work. So great I couldn't put it down til I read every bit of it from front to back and I did! Read it all in one day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I offer my personal high rating for this book, for this is a unique sidelight of a well-known star. I have seen SOME LIKE IT HOT and MONKEY BUSINESS and she is a special actress. Give her the play-act book and she will study it and be ready. Beauty says a lot; but talent and gift are traits I take as personal esteem for her tough life.
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Good book overall. Didn't like the way it ended.
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