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Blonde

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really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  10,472 ratings  ·  1,046 reviews
« Alors, en début de soirée, ce 3 août 1962, vint la Mort, index sur la sonnette du 12305 Fifth Helena Drive. La Mort qui essuyait la sueur de son front avec sa casquette de base-ball. La Mort qui mastiquait vite, impatiente, un chewing-gum. Pas un bruit à l'intérieur. La Mort ne peut pas le laisser sur le pas de la porte, ce foutu paquet, il lui faut une signature. Elle n ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 1110 pages
Published April 28th 2002 by Le Livre de Poche (first published 2000)
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Lisa Hull It's a a fictionalized story about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Although the author based it "closely" on Monroe's real life, there are elements of fic…moreIt's a a fictionalized story about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Although the author based it "closely" on Monroe's real life, there are elements of fiction or imagination included.(less)
Kara Van Johnson, described in Wikipedia "the embodiment of the "boy-next-door wholesomeness" which made him a popular Hollywood star in the 1940s and 1950…moreVan Johnson, described in Wikipedia "the embodiment of the "boy-next-door wholesomeness" which made him a popular Hollywood star in the 1940s and 1950s, playing "the red-haired, freckle-faced soldier, sailor, or bomber pilot who used to live down the street" in MGM films during the war years."(less)

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Fabian
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
YOU MUST READ THIS! Have to have to! And you will. It must be one of the BEST (FINEST) novels of all time. (& y'all know that this is the sole topic I will NEVER joke about.)

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 s
...more
Bess
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of Joyce Carol Oates is Blonde, a radically distilled accounting of the life and death of Norma Jeane Baker, who exploded onto screens (and magazine spreads) in 1950 as "Marilyn Monroe," became a global sex symbol and almost as quickly, exited the world in a drug overdose. Published in 2000, this is fiction, with characters of the author's invention mingling with real people (some unidentified by name). The word "epic" gets thrown about as an adjective far too ofte ...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
Jaline
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This book was very difficult to read. Not because of the writing, which is phenomenal, but because we already know the sad ending. Joyce Carol Oates takes us on a literary journey from babyhood through to the end with a flawless, relentless depiction of the mind within the body that embarked on this particular journey. It is beyond sad to bear witness to the reactions and defenses of a mind molded by fear, uncertainty, unpredictability and unreliability that resulted in a young woman who became ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was marvellous in many ways! It's a fictional piece of work following the life of Norma Jeane Baker, aka. Marilyn Monroe, from she's a child till her death as a 36-year-old woman devoured and intoxicated with drugs, medication and alcohol. It's a tragic life story, but it's hugely inspiring as well, and if you have even the faintest interest in Marilyn Monroe's life I would highly recommend this book.
To me, one of the most interesting aspects of "Blonde" was how it balances fiction an
...more
Madeline
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Alex
Joyce Carol Oates has appropriated our American wet dream, the winner of the global boner bracket, the all-time "Who'd You Rather?" champion, she's taken and made some kind of Cinderella Christ myth out of her, tarted up for the ball by her leering old fairy godfather and when the clock hits twelve martyred for our filthy sins. No soft-focus angel Christ here, either: this is Mel Gibson torture Christ, all meat and oozing sores inside her mouth. Oates insists on the fact of her body: Marilyn Mon ...more
Sara
Apr 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Roman Clodia
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A huge book as JCO gives us a fictional re-imagining of Norma Jeane (sic) from her early childhood with a dangerous, mentally-unstable mother, via an orphanage, a foster home and, eventually, Hollywood - via numerous detours.

JCO is especially interested in Norma Jeane's inner life and her relationships with men, all driven by her search for her absent father. I know little about Monroe so have no idea what is fact and what fiction but certainly this feels like a convincing portrait of a woman c
...more
S Suzanne
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
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
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

Beneat
...more
Catherine
Jul 29, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Alison
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Julie
It's been many years since I read this one but it really struck me as getting to the heart of Marilyn Monroe better than nonfiction. Or rather Norma Jean, as Marilyn is not the star of this novel.

The novel reads like a sweeping biography. Of course, her life and death as well as her goddess-like fame is covered, but it's Norma Jean the reader gets to know. She's the only person worth knowing because Marilyn is a mirage. A mirage that still holds our interest almost sixty years after her death. 
...more
lucky little cat
One of those rare books that will make the world look entirely different to you when you look up from reading.

Thanks, Marta!

30.05 hours
196 w/m
Laurie  |  LOHF
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dan
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this, read this, read this!

Fantastic writing. JCO brought Norma Jean/Marilyn to life is this factionalized version of her tumultuous life. I knew the major story lines of her life; her movie career, her short marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller and her dalliances with President Kennedy and RFK. I learned so much more about her life and her relationships. There were some interesting twists on what I knew to be her life, like her relationship to Cass Chaplin and Eddy G. Robinson Jr...
...more
Tanya
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advance-copy
Blonde is an epic and fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life—it was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and Oates herself has said that she expects this to be the novel for which she will ultimately be remembered.

At over 700 pages, Blonde is incredibly ambitious in both length and scope as it follows Monroe's tumultuous life, from early childhood to the inevitable death. Don't expect it to be completely biographically accurate, though: A massive amount of rese
...more
Forrest
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oates's novel brings Marilyn back to life for a mind-numbing 700+ pages, a Lazarus style resurrection so tedious that never have I been so ready for the main character in a novel to just pack it in and die already.

Oates is a talented writer. Fantastic, even. And yet...this book is flawed. Deeply flawed. For one, it is entirely too long. It's filled with sentences, paragraphs, and even whole chapters that add nothing to the book. They seem to exist solely for the purpose of Oates showing off her
...more
Cynthia Paschen
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
Martin Turnbull
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You could argue that a highly fictionalized and speculative novel about the inner life of Marilyn Monroe does its subject, already the victim of so much misinformation and misunderstanding, a disservice. But that would miss the point of this novel that mesmerized me like few books I have read this year. Oates breaks all the rules of form, structure, punctuation and yet somehow manages to capture what life may have looked like from inside Monroe’s mind.
Frank
I was really blown away by this fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's tragic life. Oates makes it clear in an author's note at the front of the novel that this is a work of fiction and that certain things are taken from interviews while others are fictitious. She goes on to say that biographical facts regarding Monroe should not be sought in Blonde but in biographies of the subject. That being said, this novel really puts a voice to Norma Jeane Baker aka Marilyn Monroe. It explores the iconi ...more
Jenny
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mark
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
“In life, the woman was hell and in hell; on film, divine.”

-Billy Wilder

“Beauty is a question of optics. All sight is illusion.”

This is a fictionalized account of Norma Jeane Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe. From a stuttering, neglected, little girl, to a drugged out, burned out starlet. It is not an easy read. This woman is relentlessly abused, exploited, raped and scorned for 700 pages. Nightmarish and hallucinogenic. What makes it captivating and readable, is the author's terrific writing skill and
...more
Linda
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of how the shy, stammering Norma Jean Baker was transformed into the sensual, sexual Marilyn Monroe. Joyce Carol Oates has emphasized that it is a fictional novel, based on true events. She added an e to Norma Jean to clarify that it is fiction based on Norma Jean or a description of how Norma Jean might have thought and felt during her life.

Norma Jeane had a tragic childhood. Her mother was an addict and schizofrenic, and mistreated Norma, even tried to kill her. Norma’s fathe
...more
Janet
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My favorite later JCO--the best of both words, a story with tremendous intrinsic interest (Marilyn Monroe) brilliantly written.
Marta
Joyce Carol Oates gets into Marilyn’s head, body, soul and feelings in this literary re-imagining of her life. She explores her vulnerability, the tentativeness, the innocence, and the unique sensitivity which propelled her into the limelight and to her unavoidable tragic ending.

Marylin embodied the object of male desire: beautiful, alluring, submissive, eager to please and easy to exploit. She lit up the screen and was a natural actress - had no technique but worked really hard to get into the
...more
Krenzel
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001
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
Viola
May 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading Blonde because I had thoroughly enjoyed another one of Joyce Carol Oates' lesser known works, Carthage, and I decided to try one of her more famous works. Unfortunately, I was disappointed here.

I suppose that the primary propeller throughout Blonde is simply one’s own fascination with Marilyn Monroe – a fascination I just don’t share. I get that she is a major cultural icon with significant influence. I get her importance. I enjoy her movies. I don’t dislike her. I’m just sort
...more
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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

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