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Diane Zwang | 1217 comments Mod
Place reviews and star rating here.

message 2: by Diane (last edited Feb 02, 2018 08:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane Zwang | 1217 comments Mod
Looking for more information about Marilyn?

Marilyn Monroe: Beyond The Legend

Arthur Miller Interviewed About Marilyn Monroe In 1987

My husband said I need an intervention. I have discovered many interviews/documentaries/shows about Marilyn Monroe. I don't usually watch Youtube but I have seemed to have fallen down the rabbit hole.

Diane Zwang | 1217 comments Mod
3.5/5 stars
“Sure, we invented MARILYN MONROE. The platinum-blond hair was The Studio's idea. The Mmmm! Name.”

This being my first Joyce Carol Oats book I rather enjoyed her writing and look forward to reading more of her work.

I was entertained and absorbed in the story of Norma Jeane Baker AKA Marilyn Monroe. Most nights I had trouble putting down the book as I wanted to see what would happened next. I liked the first parts of her life the best, her childhood, the contentious relationship with her mother, the orphanage and foster care. My heart broke for the difficult childhood she had, it was no wonder she turned to drugs and men for solace. About halfway through the book I started to lose some steam. I enjoyed the bits about her movies and some of the behind the scenes information. I did not know that Marilyn was sewn into some of her dresses, a fact I find quite alarming. The author seemed to have a fascination with her reproductive cycle which came up often and I read more than I cared to. The last 100 pages were my least favorite, although I was inspired to read more about her death and picked up Coroner by Thomas Noguchi. I also have a need to watch some of her movies. I have download Niagara to watch as I have never seen it. All in all I am happy I read this book. The fact that I read a 739 page book in a month says I enjoyed it.

“It would astonish the Playwright when he came to know the Blond Actress better how, when she didn't wish to be recognized, she rarely was, for “Marilyn Monroe” was but one of her roles and not the one that most engaged her.”

Diane | 2022 comments 3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this fictionalized biography of Marilyn Monroe more than I anticipated. I knew very little about the details of Monroe's life prior to reading this book, but still wonder how much is real and how much is fiction, both on Oates' part as well as Marilyn's.

I think Oates was very sympathetic to Monroe and portrayed her in a far more favorable light than the tabloids. Monroe certainly did have to overcome many difficult obstacles in both her childhood and adulthood. Oates researched Monroe's life very well and did a great job of speculating how the actress may have thought and of the emotions she may have felt. I commend her for taking on such a larger than life icon.

A few things did bug me, though. I did wonder why she named certain real-life characters by name and others just by a title. Perhaps it had something to do with legal issues and permission. I did find the use of titles in place of names somewhat annoying, however. And did Marilyn really call all of her lovers "Daddy"? That was a bit much. She needed a father figure in her life, I get it. Stop beating me over the head with it already. Also, was every man in Marilyn's life a jerk or is that just Oates depiction of them? I am a bit skeptical of Oates' view on men in general.

Overall, though, I did enjoy the majority of it. Oates has always been hit or miss with me and I think this is definitely one of her best.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 2 stars

I am not a fan of Marilyn Monroe. I do not dislike her, but really have no appreciation for her either. That is my bias. Here is one other: I am not a big fan of fictionalized stories about real people. It is clear to me that Oates is a good writer and that she is actually a fan of Marilyn. But I would much rather read a biography -- non fiction -- than this. And the pseudonyms drove me crazy. We all know who the athlete was. We all know to whom Marilyn was married, and with whom she had affairs. I found it irritating. I would never read this book again, and wish it wasn't my first Oates book.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments Diane wrote: "3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this fictionalized biography of Marilyn Monroe more than I anticipated. I knew very little about the details of Monroe's life prior to reading this book, but still wonder how m..."

Ugh! One of her best? I guess I am not going to enjoy her books.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3963 comments Mod
Fictionalized biography of Marilyn Monroe by Joyce Carol Oates. I can't say that I really enjoyed the book. I am not into reading about actresses and Hollywood but I knew about Marilyn Monroe. Born in 1926 and died 1962. I would have been 8 years old at the time. I can't say that I've ever watched any of her movies but I can say that I am familiar with the icon Marilyn. Her image is an American icon. This book while a work of fiction is the author's interpretation of what it might have been like and what may have drove Marilyn or Norma Jean. She had an awful life but she made something of that life and one could say that she had resiliency but she also was traumatized and in the end Hollywood won and Norma Jean lost. The book uses initials and descriptions of person's job or acclaim such as ex athlete and playwright and President rather than names. I did not like the book. The book was readable. It was a book about a sex symbol and therefore the subject matter was sex and language and also Hollywood culture which included drugs. Rating 3.67

Dree | 243 comments 3 stars (generally enjoyable read, but minus 2 stars for fictionalizing a real person, more below)

Though long, I found this book to be very readable and really quite entertaining.


This is a fictionalized version--a VERY fictionalized version--of Norma Jeane Baker/Marilyn Monroe's life. Things that ARE known, like the fact that she did not live with her grandmother as a child (her grandmother died when Norma was younger), were changed by Oates. Why, exactly, I don't understand and I do not like. No, not everything about her life is known, but why change what IS known, other than to make "reasons" for her behavior. But they're not reasons if they are fake.

She also never calls DiMaggio or Miller by name--but we all know who they are meant to be. Why is DiMaggio's Sicilian mother obsessed with properly cooked risotto? Risotto is a Po Valley food--rice does not grow in Sicily! Is this sloppiness, or is Oates trying to "hide" the true identities of the "characters" to avoid being sued by descendants?

Why not just write a novel, an original story? Why take a real person's life and change their childhood, put words in their mouth, thoughts in their head, use aliases for others (study execs all get letters), to make a fake biography? It annoys me, and as both a genealogist and historian it pisses me off.

Mostly I found this to be a very frustrating read. I feel like I need to read actual MM biographies to clear my head. I find this sooo hard to discuss because am I discussing a life or a story? I CAN'T TELL.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3963 comments Mod
Dree wrote: "3 stars (generally enjoyable read, but minus 2 stars for fictionalizing a real person, more below)

Though long, I found this book to be very readable and really quite entertaining.


This is ..."

I do find it hard to discuss, tried to discuss with my husband after I finished and I kept getting mixed up between fact and fiction. And I do not want to read an biography of MM. It was hard enough to read this. I don't care enough to want to read more than Wikipedia.

message 10: by Book (new) - rated it 4 stars

Book Wormy | 1929 comments Mod
4 stars

I have never seen a Marilyn Monroe movie and I am too young to have been swept up in the controversy surrounding her life, without the 1001 list I doubt I would ever have read this however I am glad I have.

At the start of this book Oates makes it clear that this is a work of fiction and not a true account of Marilyn's life. Comparing this book with Wiki it is clear that the book concentrates on the broad strokes and isn't concerned with the finer detail.

Reading this Norma Jeane really came alive for me and the way that Oates shows her descent into drug addiction and mental health issues is sympathetically done.

The portrayal of Hollywood as a male ruled world doesn't seem so far removed from what has been happening in recent years.

I am now intrigued by Norma Jeane and will probably read a true biography at some point.

I wasn't particularly fond of how this book ended it seemed to jar with the careful build up of self destruction, loneliness and desperation.

message 11: by Pip (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pip | 1357 comments I remember Marilyn Munro very well indeed. I remember how sad I felt when she died and I have read most of the biographies of her through the years. But it was a long time ago when I last read something about her and so I embraced this fictionalised account of her life with great gusto. And I enjoyed it very much. She was a woman who fascinated not only her fans but some of the most successful men in the world and she undoubtedly lit up the screen. We learnt about her difficulties bit by bit after her death and there has always been speculation about what really happened. We all make up stories about the people who interest us, there are still any number of magazines who do this weekly. Because Oates writes so well, she carried me along with her interpretation of the MM legend and I was happily so transported. It was really just a long, well written version of the kind of stuff one can pick up at the checkout counter of the local supermarket.

Tracy (tstan) | 557 comments 3 stars
I enjoyed the writing enough to read more JCO. I had a very hard time with the book, though. I think if I had grown up in a bubble, without knowing who Marilyn was, I would have liked it more. It does inspire me to find a real biography- I’d like to learn more about Norma Jeane.

Tatjana JP | 280 comments 4 stars
I enjoyed reading Blonde more than I expected. My strongest impression from the book was how sad and lonely and miserable Marilyn was. It made me feel so sorry about her, especially because she was so beautiful and sexy and talented. I remember watching some of her movies while teenager and how fascinated I was with her beauty and style and charisma.
Although many facts were fictionalized, for me it didn't matter much - Oates was really showing her point. After all, she was alone and there was nobody to love her. How sad...

Jenni (sprainedbrain) | 71 comments This is not a book that I would have chosen without the 1001 Books list to guide me to it. It was my first Oates, and it was a big old book. I really loved the writing style, and the fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life was engrossing. I fell into a rabbit hole of Google searches while reading the book, though, trying to figure out what was 'real' from her life and what was fabricated for the book. The book was really sad all the way through, and I'm just left feeling sorry for her. Still, a solid read. I gave it 3 1/2 stars.

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