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Blonde

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  7,851 Ratings  ·  750 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 HarperCollins (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…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)

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Fabian
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
YOU MUST READ THIS! It must one of the BEST novels of all time. (About this topic I will NEVER kid 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 state? Read novels, exemplary novels like this one, for a novel li
...more
Bess
Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
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
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
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
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
Jaline
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
S Suzanne
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bark
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Cynthia
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Kike
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Provocativa y descarnada es como se puede describir esta novela, en donde Joyce Carol Oates se inspira en la vida de Marilyn Monroe para hablarnos de lo cruel de la fama, de lo corrupto del mundo de Hollywood y de la doble moral en la que vive la sociedad estadounidense.
Con maestría Oates mezcla hechos reales con otros totalmente salidos de la ficción para presentarnos a una Marilyn frágil y desequilibrada, que, siempre optimista busco agradar a todo un país y como la misma gente que la creo la
...more
Linnea
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Massiivisen upea teos fiktiivisestä Norma Jeane Bakerista eli Marilynistä. Omat tietoni todellisesta esikuvasta ovat niin viitteelliset, että välillä tätä luki kuin raadollista elämäkertaa. Joyce Carol Oates vääntää, kääntää, lainaa ja sepittää ja tekee sen niin hyvin, että lähet tuhatsivuista pokkaria lukee pelkästään ilokseen. Tiivistämistä en kaivannut lainkaan ja kaikki tähän käytetty lukuaika oli loppujen lopuksi vain kotiin päin, hieno teos.
Suketus
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
Hämmästyttävä, upea kirja, joka jättää likaisen ja vihaisen olon.
Jenny
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
“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
Jassu
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-bookshelf
Todella mielenkiintoinen fiktion ja faktan sekoitus Marilyn Monroen elämästä. Olen viimeistään nyt vakuuttunut Joyce Carol Oatesin kirjoittamisen lahjasta.
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
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
Dayla
This is my first Joyce Carol Oats' book, and I was totally blown away by Oats' brilliance at creating scenes--one you can smell, feel and taste. For example, Gladys' smell in the Lakewood rest home; or Marilyn's smell after sex with a president. They all seemed pitch perfect.

What also allowed such full descriptions and insight was the author's statement in the preface that none of the book is true. So, while the author didn't know if MM might have an oily filmy sweat problem as a result of mixi
...more
Jenny
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
"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
Martin Turnbull
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Moushine Zahr
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the last book I've started reading in 2016 and the first book I finished reading in 2017 and WHAT A NOVEL!!! This novel is a fiction story relating a fictive version of the life of Norma Jeane alias Marilyn Monroe. Some of the book's contents are true based on or inspired by her real life while other stories are pure fiction.

This is the story of a lonely woman, with little basic school education, no family and no friends, trying to live, work and survive in the cruel male dominated wor
...more
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Reading 1001: Reviews 14 30 Mar 31, 2018 05:10PM  
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4,279 followers
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

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“Death is just the last scene of the last act.” 68 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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