|Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates|
Oates' did not intend the book to be biographical. Some names were changed, and some key characters were left out altogether, most notably Lee and Paula Strasberg. However, I believe the emotional undercurrent was true to Marilyn's life. It is widely held that off-camera, she had no self-esteem. She desperately needed to be loved, desperately wanted a baby, and was easily swayed by the ambitions of those around her. On-camera she was dynamite. Cast and crew, spell-bound, stopped and watched. No matter their years of experience (as with Laurence Olivier or Clark Gable); no matter their purported indifference to her beauty; or their pure exasperation (aka, hatred) of unprofessionalism on set. It was reported by all that her ability could only be classified as genius.
This book explores her desire to balance her normal life as Norma Jean with her powerful Hollywood career as Marilyn Monroe. Despite her scarred upbringing by a psychotic mother, followed by years in the foster system, the reader hopes against hope that this young starlet will triumph. But as Norma Jean falls deeper into the grips of drugs and loses herself in the champagne, the reader weeps for the lost innocence and steels themselves for the next movie premiere at which Marilyn Monroe is put on display. It is a powerful narrative and a must-read for anyone looking to round out their knowledge of her life.