MARILYN MONROE (Norman Mailer)

m-marilyn_monroe_mailer_relie_11aWe all know the tale by now. Behind the effortless cartoony-sexy fun were 63 takes, ten nervous breakdowns, not much love, and enough antidepressants to make even Robin Williams blush. I’d say read it as fiction or possibly a fictionalized story. It’s interesting (anything about Marilyn tends to be) but maybe check your facts in a couple of places? But this one is a winner thanks to some of the naughty pictures on display. I’m only kidding but there must be a reason why photographer Bert Stern gets a massive credit on the cover.

The book was controversial indeed when first published in 1973; charges of plagiarism and an attendant lawsuit from the authors of biographies used in his research put a pall over Mailer’s interpretative accomplishment. Not to mention feminists and progressives were outraged by the fact that Norman Mailer, of all people, had written anything at length about Monroe. Mailer had, shall we say, a problematic relationship with women, personally and philosophically during his public life. He could have been described as a dirty old man.

And it was easy enough to accuse the late author of indulging in a kind of literary onanism, projecting his ego on the public perception of Monro, the actress and superstar, and inflicting those results on to us. It took a lot of shameless chutzpah on Mailer’s part who, fully aware of his infamy regarding women’s rights, birth control and his insistence on a cult of masculinity, to take on the subject of Monroe anyway. He even admitted he churned this out purely for the money and threw in the Kennedy murder scenario to make it more bankable.

Mailer is an arch fantasist, and allows his prose to soar and swerve and swoop from great heights in an attempt to capture something about Monroe: the cultural force that film criticism, fashion commentary and sociological analysis couldn’t get near. He uses 50 words where 15 would suffice. It goes without saying that it was tragic that Marilyn really had no one to protect her – from herself, or from those who would manipulate her in her weakest hours. This was a time when stars were used up like Kleenex and thrown away.

Anyway, getting back to stormin’ Norman Mailer. This is his ultimate screwing of a dead woman. Taking advantage of someone who had been much abused in life. I could describe this book as the outpouring of an utter tosser relating everything about Marilyn back to sex. Even her childhood is portrayed in a prurient manner. Take away the photos and his narrative collapses into what can only be described as a wanker writing to himself. His lust for Monroe almost leaks from the pages. At one point he reflects that their names are near-anagrams and whether this means they are fated to be united in some way. Ewww!

marilyn-monroe-photo(Interesting photo of Marilyn. I have no knowledge of when, why or who those others are.)

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