Award Nominee Joyce Carol Oates Blonde

ISBN 13: 9780060934934

Blonde

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9780060934934: Blonde

A mesmerising novel of the most enduring cultural icon of the 20th century, Blonde is a deeply moving portrait of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe. Who was Norma Jeane Baker? In 'Blonde' we are given an intimate, unsparing vision of the woman who became Marilyn Monroe like no other: the child who visits the cinema with her mother; the orphan whose mother is declared mad; the woman who changes her name to become an actress; the fated celebrity, lover, comedienne, muse and icon. Joyce Carol Oates tells an epic American story of how a fragile, gifted young woman makes and remakes her identity, surviving against crushing odds, perpetually in conflict and intensely driven. Here is the very essence of the individual hungry and needy for love: from an elusive mother; from a mysterious, distant father and from a succession of lovers and husbands. Joyce Carol Oates sympathetically explores the inner life of the woman destined to become Hollywood's most compelling legend. 'Blonde' is a brilliant and deeply moving portrait of a culture hypnotised by its own myths and the shattering reality of the personal effects it had on the woman who became Marilyn Monroe.

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Review:

In Blonde, Joyce Carol Oates--one of America's most prestigious and versatile writers, author of numerous novels and short fictions--joins the ranks of those who have competed to tell the story of one of her nation's most compelling legends: Norma Jeane Baker, or Marilyn Monroe. In her "Author's Note" to this monumental novel, Oates describes the work as a "radically distilled life in the form of fiction". "For all its length," she continues (the book is over 700 pages long), "synecdoche is the principle of appropriation." No straightforward account of a life, then--supposing such a feat were possible--Blonde is both fragmentary and exhaustive, fictional and historical. Divided into five chronological sections from "The Child 1932-1938" to "The Afterlife 1959-1962", the narrative voice shifts from first to third person perspective, telling of a life that, from the start, is bound to the fascinations of cinema: "This movie I've been seeing all my life, yet never to its completion." Almost she might say: "This movie is my life!." In Oates's revision of "Marilyn", that fascination is, in turn, bound to Norma Jeane's painful, and paradoxical, tie to her mother: "When I was born, on June 1, 1926, in the charity ward of the Los Angeles County Hospital, my mother wasn't there." Being loved as an actress, being loved as a child, are crucial themes of Blonde, themes which agitate throughout Oates's telling of Baker's drive to fame and love, to "Daddy" and babies--"Except if Daddy could make her pregnant she would love Daddy again"--to beauty and death. It's the stuff of sensation and scandal, but Oates's reading of her subject is tactful, empathetic and, above all, alert to the complex femininity now carried through the life and image of Marilyn Monroe. Vicky Lebeau

Review:

’Nobody has ever caught Marilyn more brilliantly in words than Oates.’ Sunday Times

’Oates has been fearless in taking on a subject that criss-crossed almost every important strand of mid twentieth century history...Apart from her, only Don Delillo, among today’s American novelists, and no one at all among today’s American women novelists, would be able to handle such a huge cast of imagined and real characters...A mighty – and a mesmerising – book.’ Literary Review

’This novel deserves a wide audience. “Blonde” is what whole shelvesful of Monroe biographies should be but are not – a fabulous reinvention of the life of a fabulous reinvention, a mirror on our collective vanities and a cracking page turner to boot.’ Evening Standard

’”Blonde” is an epic achievement, a masterpiece, a piece of art so shatteringly well-conceived and lavishly-wrought that at times it almost does not seem like a mere book...If this book doesn’t catapult Joyce Carol Oates into British best sellerdom, nothing will.’ Independent on Sunday

’Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they’re wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman.’ The Herald

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