In this ambitious book, 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 startling, intimate, and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story, that of an emblematic American artist--intensely conflicted and driven--who has lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood's myth and an extraordinary woman's heartbreaking reality, Blonde is a sweeping epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great twentieth-century American star.
|Publish Date:||Sep 2009|
|Number of Pages:||738|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||1.25|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||5.25 x 7.75 x 1.25|
Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Upstate, New York. She attended Syracuse University and graduated as Valedictorian. She then attended University of Wisconsin where she earned an M. A. By the time she was 47 years old, she had published at least that many separate books, including 16 full-length novels and more than a dozen collections of short stories. Some of her works were done under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith.
She has also written numerous poems collected in several volumes, at least three plays, many critical essays, and articles and reviews on various subjects while fulfilling her obligations as a professor of English at the University of Windsor, where with her husband Raymond Smith she edited the Ontario Review, which the couple has continued since moving to Princeton in 1978. She has earned a reputation as indubitably one of our most prolific writers and very likely one of our best.
Her fiction alone demonstrates considerable variety, ranging from direct naturalism to complex experiments in form. However, what chiefly makes her work her own is a quality of psychological realism, an uncanny ability to bring to the surface an underlying sense of foreboding or a threat of violence that seems to lurk just around the corner from the everyday domestic lives she depicts so realistically. Her first six novels, including Them (1969), which won the National Book Award, express these qualities in varying ways. she is also the recipient of an NEA grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Lifetime Achievement Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature. Her title Give Me Your Heart made the New York Times Best seller list for 2011.
Will our fascination with celebrities never cease? Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of Marilyn Monroe biographies. Oates, at least, is not focused on the celebrity but on the frightened, orphaned Norma Jean, a figure perfectly in keeping with other lonely outsiders who populate her fiction. Writing in short sections that carry over extremely well to audio, she's able to achieve segues that add depth to the life being explored and fabricated.
Details, images, thoughts, and feelings abound, so credible we forget such insights could not have been known to any biographer. And as to facts, Oates explains in an illuminating interview (included on tape six) that, as a fiction writer, she's able to simplify, combining "several" abortions into one, merging various characters. True, there is no suspense in this audiobook, narrated by Jayne Atkinson: none of the haunting stream-of-consciousness Oates so masterfully placed into Mary Jo Kopechne's mouth in her novella Black Water, but these tapes have much to offer. Considering the book is 768 pages, even die-hard Oates fans might appreciate this adeptly abridged audio version. Recommended, especially for larger collections. Rochelle Ratner, formerly with"Soho Weekly News", New York
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The provocative and tragic life of Marilyn Monroe (nee Norma Jeane Baker) seems such a natural subject for Oates, who's explored the dark sides of human psyches so many times before in her work, that it's a wonder she hadn't already imbued this iconic story with her trademark doom and dread. In what the author describes as a "radically distilled `life' in the form of fiction", the reader will note the major touch points of Marilyn's upbringing, failed relationships, and career.
The author has fleshed out scenarios and given words to orphanage directors, biological and foster parents, opportunistic agents and photographers, movie stars, friends, lovers, and the like to present an impressively researched and generally compelling "novel". However, it's hard to predict whether or not readers, no doubt familiar with much of this material, will go for this fictional presentation after the numerous biographies previously published. To Oates's credit, there are a few mysteries about Marilyn's life this reviewer wasn't familiar with (most notably the possible identity of her real father), and relating this saga mainly through Marilyn's eyes is original, even if she still essentially remains a cipher. Combine the sensational subject with the renowned author, and you have a book that most libraries will want, and most people will at least want to look at.
- Marc A. Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA
(c). Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In this ambitious book, 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 startling, intimate, and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story, that of an emblematic American artist—intensely conflicted and driven—who has lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood's myth and an extraordinary woman's heartbreaking reality, Blonde is a sweeping epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great twentieth-century American star.