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Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde (2000)

by Joyce Carol Oates

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (26)  Swedish (3)  French (3)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
“Blonde” is about the quintessential American blond icon: Marilyn Monroe. It’s a fictionalized biography that is grounded in research but takes off into imagination; inventing love affairs, merging multiple people into one archetypal persona, and looking into the mind of MM. Not just into her mind; into her heart and soul. Somehow, Oates manages, with her dense prose, to put the reader in Norma Jeane’s self, and feel everything she feels. It’s not a pleasant place to be, but it’s un-put-downable.

The novel is slow at the beginning but picks up steam rapidly; Oates goes into detail about Norma Jeane’s childhood. It was a horrible childhood (as MM’s childhood was) and the prose takes us deep into just *how* horrible it was. MM’s disastrous teenage marriage, her discovery by a photographer, her early Hollywood days and being forced to provide sex for the studio bosses, and her success at great cost are all detailed. Not a drinker and against drugs, she ended up drinking heavily and taking uppers, downers, and who knows what else to get her through her days on the set and the social appearances that were demanded of her. Through it all, all she really wanted was for someone to love her, the true her, Norma Jeane, not the cardboard cutout Marilyn Monroe. She only got that once, for a very short time, and turned it down when it appeared.

At over seven hundred pages, “Blonde” is not a light read, but it’s pretty fast for how dense it is. It haunted my mind for days after finishing it. I’ve read several biographies of Monroe, and none of them really gave me the feel of her life like this novel did. ( )
  dark_phoenix54 | Oct 12, 2015 |
Autobiographical fiction about life of Marilyn Monroe. ( )
  S_Trenti | Jul 11, 2015 |
completed 12.5.14 ( )
  bookmagic | Dec 8, 2014 |
I thought this had promise, but bogged right down. Sort of gave me the creeps.
  SusanListon | Nov 30, 2014 |
She continues to impress me as a very creative and courageous writer. Very good read! ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Feb 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joyce Carol Oatesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Eleanor Bergstein, and for Michael Goldman
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There came Death hurtling along the Boulevard in waning sepia light. - Prologue
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006093493X, Paperback)

Penzler Pick, April 2000: It is surprising and shocking to realize that Joyce Carol Oates, one of the great writers living today, has never made The New York Times bestseller list (at least not in recent memory). Far less talented (and less famous) authors have made it while she, in all likelihood not caring much, has been shut out. That could easily change with her new novel, Blonde, which may be the masterpiece of a staggeringly distinguished career.

This 700-plus-page tome is based on the life of (you guessed it) Marilyn Monroe. In fictional form, with names changed (husband Joe DiMaggio is referred to as "The Ex-Athlete," Arthur Miller as "The Playwright," John F. Kennedy as "The President," for example), this may be the most accurate and compelling portrait of this beautiful and complex woman that one is ever likely to read.

But why discuss it on the mystery page, you might well be asking yourself. It was the author's intent to structure the book as a mystery, and of course she succeeds, as she seems to succeed at everything she attempts in the world of letters. And there is a murder, apparently arranged by a secret government bureau (FBI? CIA?), although that could be the victim's hallucination. Of course, it could also be both real and hallucinated (remember, even paranoids have enemies).

If you like biographies, you'll like Blonde. If you like novels, you'll like Blonde. If you like mysteries, you'll like Blonde. And if you fear that more than 700 pages by one of the greatest of living literary lions might be tough slogging, here's a little excerpt from the chapter titled "The President's Pimp:"

Sure he was a pimp.

But not just any pimp. Not him!

He was a pimp par excellence. A pimp nonpareil. A pimp sui generis. A pimp with a wardrobe, and a pimp with style. A pimp with a classy Brit accent. Posterity would honor him as the President's Pimp.

A man of pride and stature: the President's Pimp.

At Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs in March 1962 there was the President poking him in the ribs with a low whistle. "That blonde. That's Marilyn Monroe?"

He told the President yes it was. Monroe, a friend of his. Luscious, eh? But a little crazy.

Thoughtfully, the President asked, "Have I dated her yet?"

Nothing inaccessible about Joyce Carol Oates, especially in this most readable and relentlessly fascinating study of the lovely woman with whom the whole country was at least a little in love. --Otto Penzler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A fictional recreation of the life of Marilyn Monroe recounts the tale of her rise to stardom, as seen from Marilyn's perspective

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