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Marilyn, A Biography

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,068 ratings  ·  57 reviews
An extraordinary biography of the legendary screen star Marilyn Monroe (originally published in 1973) by Norman Mailer, one of America's most important writers of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Mailer, the winner of two Pullitzer Prizes, was the first writer to explore the relationship between Monroe and Bobby Kennedy .When first published, this book was the sub ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published January 1st 1973 by Grosset & Dunlap
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,495)
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Paul Bryant
Stormin' Norman was on a British radio show called Desert Island Discs once. That's a show where you choose 8 "gramophone records" (as they quaintly say) to take with you to a notional desert island on which you have been abandoned. Norman stated up front that he didn't really like music so he just picked 8 tunes which reminded him of his six wives and two significant others. What a tosser!

Anyway, Norman's unabashed drool of a book makes it clear that he would have liked to slot Marilyn in somew
...more
Margaret
My first book about Marilyn Monroe. My fascination started with my favorite movie of hers which is Bus Stop. I always felt a bit of envy over her beauty but after learning and reading about her, I know that her private life was tortured and being beautiful was a far cry from being happy. Beauty is skin deep but happiness and who you are as a person hopefully runs deeper and is more important. Marilyn's intense insecurity and need for love struck a cord in me because I have dealt with the same is ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I "read" this book when it came out in 1973....and I must be honest. I bought it for the photos of Marilyn... Hey, I was 21 years old.

The book itself is called "A Novel Biography" and that sort of sums it up. You get fantasy, facts, wishes, and maybes all in one, with the book concluding that Marilyn was assassinated by shadowy government forces.

The story of Marilyn was (and is)actually an incredibly sad one. A type of success that still makes it possible to say Marilyn with no other other name
...more
Graham Carter
The great Mr. Mailer - 1923 to 2007. Novelist, essayist, journalist (co-founder of the Village Voice), columnist, poet and playwright; innovator of New Journalism. He also acted and directed in films. He won two Pulitzer prizes. My favourite novels would have to be his blockbuster debut 'The Naked & The Dead' (1948) and 'The Executioner's Song' (1979). He published how many books? I have on my shelf 27, and am saddened that he wont publish again. For christmas my wife gave me 'Marilyn', a bo ...more
Isabel
Mailer was obsessed with Marilyn. Unfortunately for him, he was refused a meeting with her on one occasion, and missed his opportunity on the second. This book is like stream of consciousness elevating a woman to a Goddess. He is bitter, he is sweet, he is not quite right in the head.
Ted Burke
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, and feminists and progressives were particularly at arms 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 and it was ...more
Xanthi
I have heard of Norman Mailer but have never read anything by him until now. His style of writing (at least for this book) can be described as such: Why say something in a few words, when a few hundred could do? The writing in this book is very flowery, to the point of being down right annoying. He even, on occasion, refers to himself in the third person.
All in all, if you (like me) don't know much about Marilyn Monroe, I would suggest starting with a different biography. This one will just fru
...more
Eyehavenofilter
Being an avid MM fan I had to gobble this up but it was a very critical view, an such a sad look at such a sad lady. It is 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.
Mary Karpel-Jergic
I don't think that this is really a proper biography. Instead it is a collection of titbits about Marilyn's life taken from a range of biographies and what Mailer terms 'factoids' - a bizarre mixture of tabloid fancy and fact. He admits to most of the facts of the book as based upon Fred Guiles book; Norma Jean. However, Mailer makes the reader well aware of the smoke and mirrors effects of putting together someone's life, especially someone as complicated as Marilyn Monroe. Indeed, the book doe ...more
Kathy
With no citations and a claim that one source couldn't be interviewed because she was dead (she was still alive and listed in the Los Angeles phone book), Mailer's "biography" is no more than a collection of rumors and presumptions. His inclusion of Marilyn's autopsy photo is unforgivable.
Nikita Jesso
This is a biography about the one the only Marilyn Monroe. The most important person to me. I absolutely love this book for many reasons. This book is the period of June 1st, 1926 to August 5th, 1962. June 1st, 1926 being the best day in time, the day Marilyn was born. August 5th, 1962 being the worse day ever, the day she died. :( Marilyn Monroe was a actress, singer, and model. Most people just think of her as sex symbol. That's not her. She was loving,and caring. Marilyn was my light in my da ...more
Nicoleta
Nu sunt o mare amatoare de biografi dar doream sa citesc ceva concret despre una din cele mai celebre blonde din lume. Tot ce stiam pana atunci erau numai mituri si bancuri facute pe seama ei. Autorul sustine cu mana pe inima ca este sincer si ca a facut timp de opt ani cercetari inainte de a se apuca de scris cartea. Pai sa-l credem pe cuvant zic!
Am reusit cu prilejul acestei carti sa scap de stereotipul (probabil cel mai cunoscut) ce a inconjurat imaginea lui Marlin si anume aceala ca ar fi d
...more
Gigill
I gave this book a three as the photos were incredible (four stars) and the writing was really challenging/difficult to follow (two stars). Mailer is a high-brow writer that often wrote about statements that were suppositions, and he often trailed off into tangents, so it was a bit of a slug to get through. That being said, it was fun to compare notes and interesting facts about Marilyn with my book club, as each book contained different "factoids" (as Mailer often referred to them).

Like others
...more
Malak El
Sunday 22nd
March 2015

Norma Jeane Mortenson or Marilyn Monroe had a very important life. She was born on June 1st, 1926. She was born in Los Angeles, California, USA. Her parents wer Gladys Pearl Baker but her father was “uknown”. she was Pentecostal but the coverted tu Judaism due to some relationship issues. She had some complications in her life.

Marilyn had an easy way to her fame. She attended the Van Nuys High School. She appeared an a lot of movies such as Clash by Night, a Barbara Stanwyck
...more
Andrew
I was in an apartment in New York with nothing to read. I looke for something on the bookshelf and saw this book by Norman Mailer. I had heard of it, but never read it. Figured it might be interesting.

Wrong.

Mailer wrote a biography so he could describe his sexual fascination with Marilyn Monroe. Obstensibly, it is a biography. But there is nothing but speculation that drifts all over the place, including the Silent Majority of the Nixon years. Huh?

Weird.
Mark
One of the most boring books I have ever read. And I really like Norman Mailer. This book was more boring than boring.

And I slogged thru it just because I knew eventually since it was written by Norman there would be some pearls. I honestly don't remember any, but I think maybe there were one or two? Maybe?



was Mailer just plastered all the time when he wrote this and to understand it one has to be drunk too?

I don't know
Kim Teeple
And so began my love affair with Marilyn Monroe..I even started wearing my training bra to bed.
Julie_ian_curtis
I bought the photo version (1973) many years ago and paid little attention to the text. Let us not forget that when interviewed mailer said of his lack of accuracy 'i needed the money' - fair play - I sold my copy of the original to pay my rent in 2001. Reading the new 2012 version 'published in its entirety without pictures" one can only conclude this is a not a Good thing - this is wanker prose at its height. Unforgivable bollocks. He speaks of mm as she did this she did that then she went on ...more
Sasha
Sure, Mailer sounds obsessed - but how can one otherwise be inspired if not obsessed? Is it not in a heat of the inspiration that we write trough sleepless nights while little wheels are turning inside our head, with a steam floating above opened lid? Mailer was a hot blooded male, for sure, not just a little bit jealous on her husbands and lovers, fantasizing about Monroe in the darkness of the cinema, just like thousands of other guys. In fact, just today one of my work colleagues grunted with ...more
Cindy
I read this book many years ago. In fact, it was the first book on Marilyn Monroe, that I ever read. I've given it 5 stars because at the time of my reading it, I enjoyed it very much. Like other reviewers, I loved the photos and the general layout of the book, but I wouldn't say this is a reliable biography of Marilyn. In fact, much of the information in this book has been proven over the years to be nonfactual, or unsubstantiated, and of course controversial. Nevertheless, it's entertaining if ...more
C.J. Hall
I dipped into this to sample some of Mailer's writing and to get a flavour of American literary journalism. It's very good at re-creating a believable portrait of key decisions and moments in the life of the actress. The accounts of her time in New York and her attempts to train herself in the Method are fascinating to read. Mailer has the knack of getting into the mind of a nation, a culture, an event and gives us a sense of the great American journey taken by this girl. He makes reference to b ...more
Tara
I first read this many years ago. It's best-known for Norman Mailer's controversial text, but you could easily skip that and just enjoy it as a coffee table book. Photographer Larry Schiller curated some of the greatest pictures of MM - by Andre de Dienes, Milton Greene, and others - and, perhaps for the first time, showed what a genius Marilyn was in front of the still camera.

But onto the text, which Norman Mailer described as a 'novel biography'. I've now re-read it on Kindle without the great
...more
Taylor
A little bit hard to read. Author goes back and forth a lot. Other than that it was an excellent biography. Things I never knew, I learned, about what most believed to be her life. Still strongly believe she was murdered. RIP Monroe.
Georgina
Great photos. Well written but more about Mailer than Marilyn!
John P.
I'm a big fan of Mailer, but his usually tight, sparse style (see 'The Fight') is here mixed with a more Gonzo, flighty, speculative style. And his suppressed lust for Monroe almost leaks from the page. At one point he reflects that their names are near-anagrams and whether this means they are fated to be united in some way.

When Mailer is writing about American society and its celebrity culture, examined through its obsession with Monroe, he's on much firmer ground.
David Buhler
A very intelligent job of writing my Norman Mailer. He not only deals with facts, but also with "factoids" (which are not quite true but useful for publicity) and lets us see not only the outward but also the inward Marilyn. Always sympathetic but downright honest in evaluating her persona he shows us a simple helpess girl lost without an identity; and also the other side of her: a calculating "bitch." The photographs in the book always capture her best sides and leave one helplessly loving this ...more
Andy
Brilliant writing from a double Pulitzer Prize winner.
Emily
Book is full of shit, it's all lies and conspiracy theories. Only have it because a family friend gave it to me, only looked at it for the pictures. I tried to read it but I was baffled by the stupidity and nonsense coming off the page. I would give it zero stars, but, the pictures were beautiful. That's it. Why he was published I have no idea. He even admitted on television that he lied in this book because he was desperate for money. Why people use this as a source for information I never know ...more
Ellen
Five stars means amazing. What was amazing was the not-all-that-subtle hostility with which Mailer wrote. But what else was new. Honestly, it was no more hostile than... No, I was going to say than "Harlot's Ghost," but that had an underlying "attaboy" quality to it, an admiration of men being men that he just couldn't bring to this book. He wanted her too much to simply write about her is my call.
Melissa Jackson
I gave it 3 stars for the photographs. It seemed Mr. Mailer was more interested in her fragility and sex appeal than her actual well being. His insight is captivating, yes, but sells her short in many ways. This book gives the reader a strong perception of a woman that is to be pitied more than emulated.
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Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once.
...more
More about Norman Mailer...
The Naked and the Dead The Executioner's Song An American Dream The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History The Fight

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“I'm a failure as a woman. My men expect so much of me, because of the image they've made of me—and that I've made of myself—as a sex symbol. They expect bells to ring and whistles to whistle, but my anatomy is the same as any other woman's and I can't live up to it” 81 likes
“Everything happens for a reason.” 14 likes
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