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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 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 subject of Time and Life Magazine cover stories, was on the New York Times Bestseller List and became a full selection of the Book of the Month Club .


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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 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 subject of Time and Life Magazine cover stories, was on the New York Times Bestseller List and became a full selection of the Book of the Month Club .

30 review for Marilyn: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I listened to an audiobook version borrowed from my local library. On balance I wouldn’t say that audio was the best format for this book, mainly because you miss out on the photographs. Photos are always going to be integral to any biography of Marilyn Monroe, and Mailer also frequently alludes to particular photos in his text, which clearly doesn’t work on audio. The other thing I found is that Mailer goes for a very extravagant style of prose in this book, and there were a number of sentences I listened to an audiobook version borrowed from my local library. On balance I wouldn’t say that audio was the best format for this book, mainly because you miss out on the photographs. Photos are always going to be integral to any biography of Marilyn Monroe, and Mailer also frequently alludes to particular photos in his text, which clearly doesn’t work on audio. The other thing I found is that Mailer goes for a very extravagant style of prose in this book, and there were a number of sentences where, had I been reading, I would have stopped to think about what I’d just read. That’s less easy to do with audio, especially if like me you generally listen in the car. From time to time I did discern some sharp observations from Mailer, poking out from underneath the verbiage. One thing that really dates the book is that Mailer keeps making odd references to Richard Nixon - it was, after all, written in the early 70s. I tend to read memoirs more than biographies, but from my limited knowledge of the latter category, I’d say this was an unusual example. Early on Mailer himself refers to it as “a species of novel, following the rules of biography”, a statement that allows him to indulge in a great deal of speculation around Marilyn’s thoughts and motives during her troubled life. He leans a lot on the work of earlier biographers, but like them finds it nearly impossible to disentangle truth from myth in Marilyn’s early life. The circumstances of her death will of course forever be shrouded in speculation. For all that, I do feel I learned a fair bit about MM. I had been aware of her life in outline, her three marriages and her better-known films. I hadn’t appreciated though, how determined she was in the early part of her career. Emmeline Snively, the owner of the small modelling agency that first signed her, spoke of how she worked harder than any other model she ever met, pouring over her photos for hours and questioning the photographers about why one photo had worked and another hadn’t. I also really liked Mailer’s observation that Snively’s discovery of Marilyn was akin to one of those Hollywood boxing movies where the small-town coach finds he has a potential world champion in his gym. There are some great quotes in this book. Some of my favourites were from Monroe herself, from John Huston, and from Simone Signoret, whose husband Yves Montand had an affair with Monroe. I’d like to repeat them, but my review would go on too long. Marilyn seemed to throw herself into both professional and personal relationships with enormous passion, only to later sour on them just as fiercely. If this book is to be believed she was capable of being quite cruel to others. In later years she famously drove her co-stars crazy with her unreliability. I suppose we all have those aspects to us, but she more than most. She seems to have been a hard person to understand, and ultimately that’s as true for Mailer as for the rest of us.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    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 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 place before the reader divergent views. The author explains why he favors one or the other or a third. This approach is what I was looking for. I feel it does not go deeper than the known facts warrant. He doesn’t build upon unreliable information that has been reported and repeated so often that it has become accepted as fact. The book does not offer a deep psychological analysis of Marilyn. Why? Because that is impossible. He gives only what is reasonable without too much supposition. My one reservation is that at some points the clarity of what is being said is fuzzy – a bit too many innuendos rather than straightforward statements. This is the best I can do in describing the style of writing employed. On completion of the book I feel I have been given an adequate understanding of the woman and the events of her life. What a sad life! All thirty-six years. She lived from 1926-1962. Her parentage, her youth, her career, her marriages, her lifestyle, her personality and her death are all covered. I am satisfied. I don’t need more. I am giving the audiobook narration by Jeff Harding three stars too. He is easy to understand, and that is what is most important as far as I am concerned. He uses a honey sweet baby doll voice for Marilyn which I could have done without, but I bet most people love it. I must admit, he did make me laugh off and on. He lays accents on thick. He has a peculiar lilt where he goes up in tone. For me his intonations exaggerate the author's lines. It would have been worse if he misconstrued the author's written words; that he doesn't do. I seem to be the only audiobook listener who just wants a narrator to read the lines in a straightforward manner!

  3. 5 out of 5

    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 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 somewhere between Wife No. 4 and Wife No. 5. But some little fishies just didn't swim into his big craw. Contemplating Marilyn's life & character is guaranteed to make me pontificate tediously about the common yet weird disjunction between outer aspect and inner reality with which we so often are jarringly confronted in this life. The very Marilynity of Marilyn on screen and in photos gives even the casual observer the idea that it just doesn't get any better than this. But of course, behind the effortless cartoony-sexy fun were 63 takes, ten nervous breakdowns, not much love, and enough antidepressants to trade for a 1953 tan and cream Studebaker saloon. ** Always thought of myself as a bit of a failure For never reading anything else by Norman Mailure Except the Executioner's Song Which was really long.

  4. 4 out of 5

    P

    Lots of surprising inside info about Marilyn. More substance to her than I thought.

  5. 5 out of 5

    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 book o 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 book of his I had never bothered with... apparently it is amongst one of his highest selling works. These days I think Mailer is considered unfashionable, a 'great pity' as the great man might say... but I think he could care less. However I'll focus on 'Marilyn'. Arthur Miller (her third husband), was scathing of the work, but in the biography Mailer more or less states that Miller's reputation rests on 'Death Of A Salesman' and describes him as having 'a workmanlike style, limited lyrical gifts (and) no capacity for intellectual shock'... Miller might have felt wounded! Published in 1973, Monroe (1926-1962, 36 when she died) was not a prolific actress, and as a lover of film I would only count as her best films Billy Wilder's ' The Seven Year Itch' (1955) and 'Some Like It Hot' (1959) - although the John Huston directed Arthur Miller scripted 'The Misfits' (1961) isn't without interest. I found the book a real page turner, easy to read, and more interesting because of Mailer; he doesn't just regurgitate details from interviews, he tries to get into her possible state of mind in key points of her life. My only criticism would be that it feels a bit 'thrown together', lacks the usual Mailer polish. I recommend it as I was not thinking I would find the book particularly interesting, as I've come across most details about Monroe before. I find the sarcastic criticism of the book, mainly the comments along the lines of Mailer wanting to bed her, bone her, salivating after her hilarious, because I love the way Mailer talks about sex in all his books... and I think it is this aspect of his writing that momentarily has labelled him 'unfashionable'... but times will change again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    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 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 issues, hence the fascination perhaps.

  7. 4 out of 5

    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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    Norman Mailer was part of the group that changed the style of writing non fiction to make it read more like a novel. In that respect, he does a great job. His writing is brilliant, if cynical and a little superior. It's also geared, I think, toward the "hip and groovy" set who think reading books like this puts them in a certain "cool" category. Having said that, I still like the book. The photographs, if nothing else are worth the price of the book alone (which in my case was a used book in mint Norman Mailer was part of the group that changed the style of writing non fiction to make it read more like a novel. In that respect, he does a great job. His writing is brilliant, if cynical and a little superior. It's also geared, I think, toward the "hip and groovy" set who think reading books like this puts them in a certain "cool" category. Having said that, I still like the book. The photographs, if nothing else are worth the price of the book alone (which in my case was a used book in mint condition for five dollars, heh heh). Mailer admits that his book is largely a compilation of previous biographies and speculation based on her movies and photographs. This is evident when he writes out the thoughts that Marilyn and others involved in her life could be thinking at any given time. But much of what he writes can be verified. He certainly is successful in conveying what a complicated, tragic and fascinating person she was, and he also gives a thorough biographical time line of her life. The only thing I found surprising was that he makes no mention of Marilyn having an affair with President Kennedy and barely hints at an involvement with Bobby Kennedy. Other sources I read declare that she was so involved with JFK she thought she was going to be the next Mrs. Kennedy. But this was written back in the early seventies and maybe it was still too sacrosanct a subject to touch upon. He explores all the possible reasons Marilyn could have died, overdose, either accidental or intentional...suicide or murder...who knows what really happened. Accidental overdose is the most likely cause based on her history of barbiturate addiction and previous close calls. Arthur Miller even wrote a play about it (After the Fall) and was censured for it. Listening to him talk about "the need to sacrifice others in order to save yourself-a justification for letting someone go ahead and kill herself- revealed a cold-hearted man. Although Mailer actually portrays Miller as the victim of Marilyn's contempt and verbal abuse. Maybe he was, she was no angel. It is speculated that she had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Her making everyone else wait hours for her on movies sets is one indication. But ultimately she is a portrait of tragedy. Her persona was so powerful that it completely possessed her and when you act intimate with everyone, you can be close to no one. Aficionados of Marilyn will enjoy this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    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 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 frustrate you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    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 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 attached and everyone knows who you mean. This and she died in 1962 almost 40 years (so far as I can think right now only Elvis and she had that kind of impact). The very success and the beauty it was founded on seem to also have destroyed her. She should be remembered and her story is one worth noting, sadly this particular book/novel is a sort of mixed bag. I'd say read it as fiction or possibly a fictionalized story. It's interesting (anything about Marilyn tends to be) but maybe check your facts in a couple of places???

  11. 5 out of 5

    Terry Cornell

    This is the first Norman Mailer book I've managed to read all the way through. I'm being generous giving it three stars, but understand more of what he was attempting to do after reading his acknowledgements. Mailer tends to have a rambling style, but when he stays with the subject matter he has the ability to be a cohesive writer. The publisher intended this to be a coffee table size collection of Marilyn Monroe photographs taken throughout her life. Mailer was at first contracted to write a sh This is the first Norman Mailer book I've managed to read all the way through. I'm being generous giving it three stars, but understand more of what he was attempting to do after reading his acknowledgements. Mailer tends to have a rambling style, but when he stays with the subject matter he has the ability to be a cohesive writer. The publisher intended this to be a coffee table size collection of Marilyn Monroe photographs taken throughout her life. Mailer was at first contracted to write a short preface for the book. After he read a biography of Monroe he realized he wanted to write more, and the publisher agreed to a novelized biography. Mailer includes several brief sections from other authors' biographies because his tight timeline prevented him from doing original research. The edition I read was a beat-up paperback picked up at a used bookstore in my college days. The quality of photos is amazing, including several in color. The book includes an index of the photos crediting the photographer, location, and date taken. Marilyn's filmography finishes up the book. For the paperback edition Mailer has included what is called "The Murder File". This chapter is his personal investigation of her death. He hired a private investigator, conducted interviews of some key people involved, summarizes other authors on the subject, and includes copies of Marilyn's autopsy report. His take seems to be she was murdered, or possibly overdosed at another location and moved back to her house. The latter would have required a fairly large cover-up. Certainly doesn't appear to me to be a typical overdose death. A great book for the photos alone, but if the reader is interested in a Marilyn Monroe biography there are many better sources out there. If you're in the Los Angeles area I recommend checking out the Hollywood Museum's display on Marilyn Monroe. I believed it was a temporary exhibit when I saw it, but apparently it is still there according to the museum's website.

  12. 4 out of 5

    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 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 does two things simultaneously; firstly it portrays her complexities, her contradictions, hopes and fears whilst at the same time it keeps you guessing as to what really happened and leaves you to come to your own conclusions. What makes this book a sumptuous experience is the pictures and interestingly, these were to be the main feature of the book (following an exhibition of them 'MARILYN MONROE - The Legend and the Truth;)with a commentary written by Mailer. This commentary appears to have expanded in the process of being written and the book offers two chronologies of her life, one in pictures and one in words. I do feel I know more about the woman now, especially her difficult childhood but I found Mailer's style of writing somewhat pretentious. In places, hugely grand with a psychoanalytic bent, in others a little cruel in the depictions of her lack of education and cultural awareness. However, I wouldn't want to read a sanitised saccharine version of her life and it is apparent by the facts we do have that she was a deeply disturbed individual. Mailer's analysis of her being someone without a core identity does fit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    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 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 easy enough to accuse the late author of indulging in an kind of literary onanism , projecting his ego on the public perception of Monro, the actress and superstar, and inflicting those results on to us. I think it took courage on Mailer's part who, fully aware of his infamy regarding women's rights , birth control and his insistence on a cult of masculinity, to take on the subject of Monroe anyway (even ,as Mailer has admitted, for the money) and to investigate his own conflicted perceptions of Monroe. Mailer is an arch romantic , and allows his prose to soar and swerve and swoop from great heights in an attempt to capture something about Monroe the cultural force that film criticism, fashion commentary and sociological analysis couldn't get near. This book contains Mailer's Private Marylin Monroe, and at the time it was published it was a florid, beautifully written , occasionally interpretation of the dry facts about Monroe's life and career.

  14. 4 out of 5

    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 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 darkness. She is my sun to my shine. I think this book was made because it was just about her and everything that happened to her. Good or bad. I have no dislikes to this book only likes, but that's just me. (Anything to do with Marilyn Monroe I'll like it)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Finch

    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 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Less concerned with any attempt at journalism or establishing facts/timelines, this is more of a vehicle for the author to wow us with his amazing and flawless intellectual and literary prowess (sarcasm). It's a pseudo-biography pandering to the Cult of Marilyn—of which I'm a proud member, so I guess I can't fault Mailer for writing the thing. The photos are beautiful.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    The guy who wrote this clearly hates women, and Marilyn in particular. Everything she does is wrong, and I'm not even 1/3 into the book. According to Norman Mailer her laugh and smile was ugly (that's why she didn't do any comedy films!), she lied about being raped, her time in foster care made her a great liar, she wasnt culturally educated and I quote; "she loved movies as much as mentally handicapped loves their life". The only "positive" thing he had to say was some disgusting, detailed and e The guy who wrote this clearly hates women, and Marilyn in particular. Everything she does is wrong, and I'm not even 1/3 into the book. According to Norman Mailer her laugh and smile was ugly (that's why she didn't do any comedy films!), she lied about being raped, her time in foster care made her a great liar, she wasnt culturally educated and I quote; "she loved movies as much as mentally handicapped loves their life". The only "positive" thing he had to say was some disgusting, detailed and extremely misogynistic comments about her body. If it weren't for the rare pictures I would burn this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    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. Prev 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. Previous Review: When this author writes of DiMaggio and Monroe's attendance at the premiere of "The Seven Year Itch", we learn that by the end of the evening, the couple fought. Mailer's interpretation? "It is like a calculus of partial derivatives." So that's when I closed the book: Mailer is writing only for himself, certainly he isn't writing for any marketing niche of which I'm familiar. The pictures here are awesome though, definitely worth a view, so just skip Mailer's weird and sometimes nonsensical writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    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 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 have posted here, he seems pretty obsessed with her. I found the last third/quarter of the book he really seemed to speed up with telling her story, whereas the front end felt a bit more meandering.

  22. 5 out of 5

    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 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 to spank a fish with a washcloth. How many metaphors /hyperbole and wank can one fit into a book ?Absolute drivel. Without the pics of the 70s version this is a embarrassment on all levels.

  23. 4 out of 5

    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

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim Teeple

    And so began my love affair with Marilyn Monroe..I even started wearing my training bra to bed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gabby Capili

    Fucking gross book. Relates everything to Marilyn's sex, even when describing her as a child.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Serratelli

    Excellent. What is a biography? Is it fact? A series of selected facts (while an omission of other facts) from which conclusions and opinions are drawn? Isn't all "non-fiction" biography a "fiction" of some degree? Norman Mailer makes this point very well, and very clearly, in Chapter 1 of "Marilyn," when he calls this work "A Novel Biography." Mailer assumes that the question of Marilyn Monroe "opens the entire problem of biography." Mailer frames the "problem of biography" like this: Can a pers Excellent. What is a biography? Is it fact? A series of selected facts (while an omission of other facts) from which conclusions and opinions are drawn? Isn't all "non-fiction" biography a "fiction" of some degree? Norman Mailer makes this point very well, and very clearly, in Chapter 1 of "Marilyn," when he calls this work "A Novel Biography." Mailer assumes that the question of Marilyn Monroe "opens the entire problem of biography." Mailer frames the "problem of biography" like this: Can a person be comprehended "by the facts of the life, and this does not even begin to take into account that abominable magnetism of facts. They always attract polar [opposite] facts." Mailer solves this "problem of biography" simply by basing his book on the "facts" of the life of Marilyn Monroe as set forth in two previously published works: * "Marilyn Monroe," by Maurice Zolotow, and * "Norma Jean," by Fred Lawrence Guiles. Mailer points out that the "facts" of each book, the "facts" he believes illuminate the essential timeline of her life, are filled with inconsistencies. In an attempt to reconcile inconsistencies in the record, Mailer builds a case in support of his beliefs regarding the feelings prompting, motives underlying, and explanations rationalizing, the behavior of all the characters in the life of Marilyn Monroe, including her own behavior. In presenting this Novel Biography of Marilyn Monroe, we come to understand what we will not ever understand about the life and death of Marilyn Monroe. And we learn a little bit more about Norman Mailer in the process as well. 5 Stars. A Winner.

  27. 4 out of 5

    T.P. Williams

    Got into this one after reading Arthur Miller's memoir, "Timebends" with its 50 page non-explanation on how marriage to Marilyn ended. Mailer's account not much better, but seems to place some blame on Miller, who was in a conflict with Milton Greene, Marilyn's business manager/leech and her acting coaches, Paula Strasberg and Natasha Lytess. Seems like they all wanted to control her and Miller had conflict, especially with the filming of "The Prince and The Showgirl," with Olivier. Miller left Got into this one after reading Arthur Miller's memoir, "Timebends" with its 50 page non-explanation on how marriage to Marilyn ended. Mailer's account not much better, but seems to place some blame on Miller, who was in a conflict with Milton Greene, Marilyn's business manager/leech and her acting coaches, Paula Strasberg and Natasha Lytess. Seems like they all wanted to control her and Miller had conflict, especially with the filming of "The Prince and The Showgirl," with Olivier. Miller left (intentionally) a damning note about her acting which she saw and marriage went downhill there. By "The Misfits," it was over. Not sure why Miller took such umbrage with Mailer's 1973 account, but there seems to have been some jealousy (Mailer prefers Tennessee Williams over Miller as a dramatist) between the two authors. Otherwise, the book breaks no new ground and seems to be a re-hashing of earlier, detailed biographies of Marilyn. The lengthy asides, and intellectual woolgathering by Mailer, turn book into a "fictional" biography or a "biographical" novel. What a short, unhappy life she lived. Mailer can definitely turn a phrase, but this is pretty mundane stuff.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Evan Graham

    I found this book fantastic. It is more Norman Mailer’s rumination on Marilyn Monroe’s life and career, but he is up front with this position; he states that he is writing a biography that is also a novel in the introduction. His prose is, understandably, beautiful and he creates a compelling, interesting, and beautiful portrait of a woman who was the same. The photographs are beautiful. On a different note, this book was published in 1972, and there a few moments where Mailer connects Marilyn’s I found this book fantastic. It is more Norman Mailer’s rumination on Marilyn Monroe’s life and career, but he is up front with this position; he states that he is writing a biography that is also a novel in the introduction. His prose is, understandably, beautiful and he creates a compelling, interesting, and beautiful portrait of a woman who was the same. The photographs are beautiful. On a different note, this book was published in 1972, and there a few moments where Mailer connects Marilyn’s celebrity and tendency to stretch of the truth in service to publicity (in what he calls “factoids”) to Richard Nixon’s political career (before the Watergate controversy reaches its pinnacle no less!). I could not help connecting these comments to the current administration in 2018. It is wild that Mailer’s written insights and concerns are still insightful and concerning today, 46 years later.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julian

    meh - I felt I was reading something written for 1970s Playboy magazine - clearly aimed at 70s man. Norman Mailer aims to get out of jail on this one by calling it a Biographical Novel which gives him flexibility to make up stuff whilst drawing on existing biographical work - so I don't think he is really adding anything of worth to the mix. Also takes a but of an underhand swipe at fellow writer Arthur Miller particularly when Miller was going through a dry phase. There are probably better biog meh - I felt I was reading something written for 1970s Playboy magazine - clearly aimed at 70s man. Norman Mailer aims to get out of jail on this one by calling it a Biographical Novel which gives him flexibility to make up stuff whilst drawing on existing biographical work - so I don't think he is really adding anything of worth to the mix. Also takes a but of an underhand swipe at fellow writer Arthur Miller particularly when Miller was going through a dry phase. There are probably better biographies out there.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patrick King

    I was eager to re-read this on my 10" Kindle because the photos in the original paper book were spectacular. This is ONLY the text which, though beautifully written, is not what I expected when I purchased. There is nothing like viewing photos on a 10" Kindle Fire. Unfortunately none of those classic pictures are included here. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

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