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Marilyn: A Biography
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Marilyn: A Biography

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,422 Ratings  ·  76 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, 1st, 270 pages
Published 1973 by Grosset & Dunlap
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Jan 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, usa, audible, 2016-read
Well, I am glad I read the book. There are so many books written about Marilyn, so picking one is quite difficult. What I like about this one is that Mailer doesn't go in with a particular bias. He relies heavily on two earlier biographies, one by Fred Guiles entitled Norma Jean and one by Maurice Zolotow entitled Marilyn Monroe, which was the first published during her lifetime. These two often do not agree, as is true of the many other books that now exist. The entire feel of the book is to pl ...more
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
Graham Carter
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everest Yayınları'nı bir kez daha bu aciz goodreads köşesinden tebrik etmek isterim. Kıyıda köşede kalmış minik, muhteşem yapıtları Türkçeye kazandırdığı için.

Devrik cümleleri okumaya başlayınca kötü bir çeviri mi acaba diye düşünmüştüm ama daha sonra Işılar Kür'ün aslında elinden gelenin en iyisini yaptığını anladım. Norman Mailer'in Amerikan üslubu bu. Manifesto gibi yazıyor. Büyük tespitler yaptığını düşünüyor(ki çoğu tespitler harika)

Norman Mailer gerçekten bir stalker gibi izlemiş Marilyn'
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots of surprising inside info about Marilyn. More substance to her than I thought.
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
Nikita Jesso
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-term
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
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.
Oct 04, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
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
Update from Previous Review: The pictures in this book are so beautiful that one can't help flipping through the pages and seeing Marilyn in all her many moods. Some of these pictures are hard to look at, they are so sad. So, I read the rest of Mailer's writings: and I was right the first time: Mailer is writing to himself, showing off with ridiculous nonsensical words/phrases/passages. I have to give 5-stars to the glorious photographs, one star to Mailer's writing, for a three star review.
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
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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.


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?

Kim Teeple
And so began my love affair with Marilyn Monroe..I even started wearing my training bra to bed.
Victoria Nicholson
Very mushy and poetic. Good ego trip for someone with eyes of a certain hue of blue. It surely did much for her legacy. Mailer obviously had a thing for her. I am going to read more Mailer. This book should not be read by someone who hates Marilyn Monroe completely because it is a fan book. I read this quite a long time ago but the poetry of his prose touched me.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I could review this book, but I suggest you find Pauline Kael's long and scathing review of "Marilyn". She said it better than anyone else could.

The second star is for the occasional fine bit of writing - Mailer was an excellent prose stylist.
Luca  Menyhart
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is unfinished constantly like fashion itself.
Gain the knowledge of this book and considering it to be a collection of respective works of Marilyn after her death.
elizabeth roberts-zibbel
Norman Mailer and Marilyn Monroe. The perfect combination? Fun but reads in part like Mailer’s private fantasies.
Lálika Stadnik
Aug 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No final tive a sensação que o Norman Mailer não gostava da Marilyn, no sentido pessoal. Achei que ele escreve um livro raso, que não se compara com a carreira da atriz, uma pessoa complexa que merece um livro dedicado a ela à sua altura. Enfim, vou procurar outros livros sobre ela, não recomendo e para melhorar peguei 'nojinho' do Norman Mailer.
Malak El
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually don't really know what I think of this's certainly unlike any other biography I've read. My sister got it for me for Christmas (unexpectedly) and I was so excited because I love Marilyn yet I know so little about her. The problem with this book is that I don't really know if I know all that much more than I did before.

Mailer opens with a chapter about how he wanted to write a novel about Marilyn in the form of a biography. That is definitely something he achieved. But with h
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
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
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
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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.
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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” 86 likes
“Everything happens for a reason.” 19 likes
More quotes…