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Blonde

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  5,169 ratings  ·  490 reviews
In her most ambitious work to date, Joyce Carol Oates boldly reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker -- the child, the woman, the fated celebrity and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. In a voice startlingly intimate and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story of an emblematic American artist -- intensely conflicted and dr...more
Paperback, 738 pages
Published April 3rd 2001 by Harpperen (first published 2000)
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Bess
Feb 25, 2008 Bess rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Finally finished, wish I were still reading, all magic is gone from life now, pls advs.

This is the New Feminist Text. I honestly think if every gal too young to remember (or too young to even have a mother who actively remembers the effects of) the women's movement of the 60s were given a copy of this book, we'd have much less patriarchy snackdom in the world, much more equal pay, and way fewer pointy-toed stilettos.

Marilyn Monroe was continuously, systematically screwed over, pawned, and sucked...more
Madeline
I wasn't really sure how to go about reviewing this book at first, but then I came up with a solution, and it's a reviewing style I'll call The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Here we go.

The Good: Of course, Joyce Carol Oates is a scary-talented author and I bow at her feet. The writing in this book goes from staggeringly beautiful to heart-wrenchingly sad, and all of it is masterfully executed. The fact is, no matter what the following might say, I would probably give my left foot to be able to wri...more
Lauren (Sugar & Snark)
Blonde is the Fictionalized Biography of Marilyn Monroe. I chose to read it over a more conventional style biography because I thought it would thought would be a more personal account and show more of her character and personality.

 photo Marilyn-Monroe-American-Actress-Model-Singer--2048x2048_zps90a80ccb.jpg

The book chronicles her life as a young child growing up with a mentally unstable mother and eventual placement in an orphanage and foster homes.

We also see her transformation from the natural beauty Norma Jean Baker to the Sex Symbol Marilyn Monroe.
 photo normajean_zps0ffc5a47.jpg

Beneath the ma...more
Alison
Aug 18, 2007 Alison rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classic movie fans, marilyn obsessees
I had no idea what this book was about when I checked it out from the library. It wasn't until I got it home that I noticed the cover was a silhouette of Marilyn Monroe with her back to the camera. This book kept me up til the wee hours for the seven days it took me to finish it. It is a fictionalized biography in that it recalls the life of Marilyn from birth to "mysterious" death at age 37 (?) from an overdose of sleeping pills with conversations and situations imagined as they might have been...more
Sara
For all of Blonde's claims as a novelized, feminist retelling of Marilyn Monroe's life, I have seldom come across a book with more disturbing, dehumanizing references to the female body and mind. I am aware that these are intended to further emphasize Marilyn's loathed and loved standing in the American psyche as the virgin/whore goddess/garbage dichotomy, but the painful overuse of the adjectives "cow", "cunt", and "mammalian" to describe Marilyn, as well as endlessly repetitive descriptions of...more
Krenzel
I have never watched a Marilyn Monroe movie and, before reading "Blonde," Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional biography of Marilyn Monroe, I knew pretty much nothing about her life, other than she had been married to famous people and sang "Happy Birthday" to JFK. I chose to read "Blonde" to find out more about Marilyn Monroe, to learn some of the truth behind the icon, so that she would become more real to me and less abstract. Ironically, I think this is the opposite of what Oates had in mind for rea...more
Jenny
I'm giving this 5 stars because JCO is such a talented writer, I really felt like I was in MM's head listening to the non-stop babble of every thought and worry that plagued her. However, there were some things I didn't like.

One thing I didn't like was that JCO did not stay true to the facts regarding MM and Joe Dimaggio's relationship after their split. Actually JD and MM remained friends after their divorce and JD made MM's funeral arrangements and tried to help MM with her dependency problems...more
Fabian
Seeing the elusive, the ephemeral, through different filters-- a jaguar prowling through the jungle, a baby left all alone, as if you had the privilege to do so in the first place. "Blonde" is a privilege to read-- the rarest of rare novel/poetry book combos. Why read itty bitty poetry in its refracted, basically restricted state? Read novels, exemplary novels like this one, for a novel like "Blonde" kicks the ass of those tiny singular books... there is poetry in each and every page. Undertakin...more
Julie
I have conflicting emotions about this book, and it goes something like this, “The book is about Marilyn, so what is there NOT to like about it, right? Warts and all, it is a powerful book written by a powerful writer.” But the song that keeps playing in my head, the words that keep haunting me, comes from the voice of another writer, This is the story of a rape.

This is the story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are the acti...more
Barks & Bites
This is an interesting fiction/real life blend about the life and death of Marilyn Monroe. It appears to have pissed off many Monroe as well as Oates fans. Many who claim writer Oates was just bitter and jealous of Monroe's beauty, one reviewer going so far, after seeing Oates picture on the back cover, to say it was because "she'd been beaten with the ugly stick herself". Sheesh, talk about ugly people!

I enjoyed the book even though it was pretty bleak and mostly depressing but how could it be...more
Jenny
"Blonde" väcker många känslor hos läsaren och den gick rakt in i mitt hjärta. Den var mycket tungläst då den i detalj skildrar Norma Jeanes osäkerhet och livskval. Boken tar upp allvarliga ämnen som identitetskris, tablettmissbruk, dålig självkänsla, sexuellt utnyttjande och mäns maktlystnad, sexmissbruk, aborter och graviditeter, bekräftelsesökande, Hollywoods filmindustri, intellekt vs skönhet, etc. Alla andra människor runtomkring henne dyrkar den glamorösa och sexiga Marilyn Monroe men Norma...more
Cynthia
Fictional account of Marilyn Monroe. It makes me want to know more about her life.

I re-read this in May, 2013 for my book group, more than 10 years after reading it the first time. Some of the women in my book group are not crazy about Oates. The only other book of hers we've read in the past 19 years (NINETEEN YEARS! HOLY COW!) was "We Were the Mulvaneys."

So I recommended this to book group, I believe it to be accessible and certainly one of one of Oates' strongest works.

I am again stunned by O...more
Susanne
I picked this up because I got Blonde from Netflix because Jensen Ackles is in it. (Yes, I am that shallow.)

The movie made me curious as to how the book was written, so I read it. And I enjoyed it. The book is *huge* so the fact that you don't want to put it down says a lot. :)

However, it is only very very loosely based on reality Marilyn Monroe. I suppose since the main two people who are misrepresented are dead, they don't care. (And no, I'm not talking about the Kennedys, although they too a...more
Claudine Yanting
Reading her self-destruction is like taking sip after sip, then gulp after gulp of poison, till it's fully merged with her lethal need for people to love her enough (her mother, her missing father, the men in her lives). Joyce Carol Oates's writing is preciously haunting: I could smell Norma Jeane's fears; I could hear her stutter as if she's right next to me; and I could feel the sting from those hateful men's disdain for Marilyn.
*Rigel
Articolo pubblicato su : http://leanimesalve.wordpress.com/201...
_Dacci un'occhiata! Grazie! :)

Colibrì

« ...ma tu continuavi ad essere bambina,
sciocca come l'antichità, crudele come il futuro,
e fra te e la tua bellezza posseduta dal potere
si mise tutta la stupidità e la crudeltà del presente.
»
Pier Paolo Pasolini

New York. Un’appetitosa ragazza all’apice della sua bellezza. In un abitino di crêpe bianco, stretto in vita, con un corpetto che le culla il seno tra le seducenti pieghe elastiche del te...more
Catherine
Blonde provides a masterful, disturbing and perceptive characterization of Marilyn Monroe that coincides with all of the other information I have read about her but provides additional interpretation into her psyche through the guise of fiction. The book itself is impossible to describe as it takes on a stylistic form that is very specific and complex. This is not just someone randomly writing a fictional biography of Monroe. This is Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific and important auth...more
Fernanda
Después de 3 semanas he podido terminarlo. Ha sido una lectura larga pero enriquecedora, intrigante, entretenida, poderosa. La redacción de Joyce Carol Oats hace de esta novela entrañable, nos hace conocer un poco más de esta rubia despampanante que tantos corazones robó y seguirá robando.

El libro biográfico se convierte en una novela. Vemos fragmentos de entrevistas, de comentarios extra. Vemos un mundo recreado para aquella Norma Jeanne cuyo padre no conocía y cuya madre perdió la razón.

A trav...more
Marigold
Award-winning novelist Joyce Carol Oates gives us a picture of the life of "Marilyn Monroe", born Norma Jeane Baker, in this novel loosely based on Marilyn's life story. From her early childhood (abusive) to her years growing up in an orphanage & various foster homes, to her early marriage & years as a model & starlet, to her stardom, her lovers, her marriages, to her last years, the novel brings to life Marilyn's insecurity, instability, her yearning to prove or justify herself in s...more
Estibaliz79
Después de pasar un intenso fin de semana con Marilyn, aquí estamos otra vez, con ciertas dudas respecto a la puntuación que darle a esta magna novela... y dejándolo en cuatro estrellas que en realidad son cuatro y media, y que por calidad fácilmente llega a las cinco. Pero ya se sabe que esto también es cuestión de gustos y... No sé...

Cierto es que la versión novelada de Oates sobre la vida de la mítica rubia engancha, sobre todo una vez que uno se sumerge en su particular universo narrativo, p...more
S Suzanne
I think this may be JCO's masterwork. I would recommend to anyone with an appetite for long and literary books. It is typically darker than perhaps reality, given JCO's penchant for the dark side of things. So take that as a warning, Marilyn fans: this is her life through a glass darkly to be sure.

After hearing some of the more recent accusations/accounts about JFK, it makes one lean toward JCO's dark lens on that particular relation. (Pages have come forward that they were made to service him,...more
Stacey


A heart-breaking, emotional roller coaster ride detailing the life of MM, as imagined by the author. This book had me holding back tears from the first chapter.
Alana
The biggest issue I have upon reviewing this novel is recognizing the fact that I've yet to read a non-fiction biographical account of Monroe's life. I'm planning on reading a book of letters, poems, etc., and I'm on the look-out for the most accurate (without being wildly boring) biography out there. But for now, all I have is Blonde, and despite feeling conflicted about a few things, I am content with what I have.

(view spoiler)...more
Kaye McSpadden
I never thought I'd be interested in reading a book about Marilyn Monroe, but wow, what a wonderful experience! Oates points out from the beginning that this is a work of fiction -- it is not a biography. However, it is clear that while much of the text is a product of Oates' imagination, it is based on a solid foundation of fact.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed Oates' writing style -- she has a way of getting inside the heads of her characters unlike few other authors I've read. The reader of...more
Margaret
I had to keep reminding myself as I was reading Blonde that it is fiction, and not a biography of Marilyn Monroe, because it was so easy to believe in the characters.

As you would expect it’s a tragic story, intense and shocking in parts. It begins with a Prologue – 3 August 1962 with Death hurtling along towards 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, Brentwood, California. It then follows Norma Jeane Baker’s life in chronological sections from The Child 1932 – 1938 to The Afterlife 1959 – 1962. It switches f...more
Eileen Granfors
After reading the non-fiction book, These Precious Days, about Jack and Jackie Kennedy, I wanted to know more about Marilyn Monroe. I read a biography of her, the highest rated one I could find. But I still wanted to know more, so I picked up BLONDE by Joyce Carol Oates. I've had mixed results with JCO books, liking some but not others.

I loved BLONDE. Although it's fiction and therefore impossible to know which scenarios are based on facts or interviews, the action of the book keeps the reader i...more
Thomma
Blonde is a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life, and she appears, by turns, as Norma Jeane, "Marilyn", and The Blond Actress. But the story Oates tells is Norma Jeane's. She, alone of the three, is the real person.

Norma Jeane is the child whose mother, an employee of the (movie) Studio, showed her at age six a picture of Clark Gable and told her he was her father, knowing the little girl had no way to know who Clark Gable was or who he wasn't. Norma Jeane never, to the end of her life...more
Michael
“Blonde” is a remarkable fictionalized biography of Marilyn Monroe that not only tracks the course of her life, but attempts with great sensitivity to lay bare the inner demons that drove this greatest of icons among mid-20th century film stars. Perhaps the most insightful aspect of the book is its explanation of how “Marilyn Monroe” was created to be just another role played by Norma Jeane Baker, the gifted, intelligent, but abandoned, abused, exploited and deeply troubled young woman who lit u...more
Aly Blythe
A meaty read; a challenging read; a provoking read.

Marilyn!

She ceased to be herself from the moment she was given her new name. She became instead a woman-shaped cipher, a vessel to be filled by the gaze and mind of her observers. Perhaps, at first, she was happy to lose herself. Eventually she realized that she hadn't been acting lost; she was lost. Gazes can't love, they can only judge, and she wanted - so very much - to be loved.

It's a difficult book to read because of its subject. Oates has...more
patty
Man, I have been reading this novel forever it seems like, I started in May and kept misplacing it, then starting on others, finishing the others even after Blonde was found.
I wanted to LOVE this book, but I didn't I wish there was a half star system because I might have given it 3 1/2 stars. It made me really interested in Marilyn Monroe, I'll say that. It made her seem 'real'. I wish I would have known her, to really know what she was like. In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Ingram, Whitey...more
Caleb
This is a behemoth of a novel. I suppose that should be the first point. But the writing is up to the challenge. While struck by the tragic life of Norma Jean Baker, I was equally stunned by the loopy, introverted, psychotic-merry-go-round writing of Oates. It's beautiful, to be sure, but startlingly imbedded deep within a mind on every page. Highly impressionist, especially for a semi-biography/fiction novel. At the same time, I got a good sense of the world of Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s, o...more
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Cafe Libri: June & July: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates 2 6 Jun 02, 2013 12:59PM  
  • Schooling
  • Adjunct: An Undigest
  • Small Remedies
  • Shroud
  • Gabriel's Gift
  • Celestial Harmonies
  • Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
  • An Obedient Father
  • London Orbital
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • Islands
  • In the Forest
  • That They May Face The Rising Sun
  • The Heart of Redness
  • The Quick and the Dead
  • Persian Nights
  • American Woman
  • Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure...more
More about Joyce Carol Oates...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Falls The Gravedigger's Daughter Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang Zombie

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“Death is just the last scene of the last act.” 50 likes
“Exotic: meaning you're "desired."
For madness is seductive, sexy. Female madness.
So long as the female is reasonably young and attractive.”
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