Synopses & Reviews
"A lush-bodied girl in the prime of her physical beauty. In an ivory georgette crepe sundress with a halter top that gathers her breasts up in soft undulating folds of the fabric. She's standing with bare legs apart on a New York subway grating. Her blond head is thrown rapturously back as an updraft lifts her full, flaring skirt, exposing white cotton panties. White cotton! The ivory-crepe sundress is floating and filmy as magic. The dress is magic. Without the dress the girl would be female meat, raw and exposed. "
She was an all-American girl who became a legend of unparalleled stature. She inspired the adoration of millions, and her life has beguiled generations of fans and fellow artists. The story of Norma Jeane Baker better known by her studio name "Marilyn Monroe"--has been dissected for more than three decades, but never has it been captured in a narrative as breathtaking and transforming as Blonde.
In her most ambitious work to date, Joyce Carol Oates, one of America's most distinguished, writers, reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker--the child, the woman, the fated celebrity--and tells the story in Norma Jeane's own voice: startling, rich, and shattering. This most intimate portrait of Norma Jeane reveals a fragile, idiosyncratically gifted young woman who makes and remakes her identity, ever managing to survive against crushing odds to become the definition of stardom. Bit by bit, she tells her own epic story of how an emblematic American artist--perpetually conflicted and intensely driven--lost her way.
Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Joyce Carol Oates evokes the distinct consciousness of the woman and the unsparing reflection of the myth, writing as she has never written before ecstatic, completely absorbed, inhabited as if by the spirit of her extraordinary subject. Rich with psychological insight and disturbing irony, this mesmerizing narrative illumines Norma Jeane's lonely childhood, wrenching adolescence, and the creation of "Marilyn Monroe."
Distorted and misunderstood, the muted voice of Norma Jeane and the grand legacy of Marilyn Monroe are also a looking glass into the shadow-world of Hollywood. While paying tribute to the elusive art of acting and moviemaking, Joyce Carol Oates depicts the chilling panorama of an industry that nourishes and devours the "pure products" of America.
Blonde offers astonishing-and often disturbing--portraits of the powerful men in Norma Jeane's life: the Ex-Athlete, the Playwright, the President, the Dark Prince.
With fresh insights into the heart of a celebrity culture hypnotized by its own, myths, Blonde is a sweeping novel about the elusive magic of a woman, the lasting legacy of a star, and the heartbreak behind the creation of the most evocative icon of the twentieth century.
"The final question, of course, and the ultimate test of Blonde
's success: Do we believe it, do we buy it, and this version of her? The answer: Yes, we do believe that this is the 'true' Marilyn Monroe inasmuch as we'll allow ourselves to believe that there is a "truth" behind an image. By the end of Blonde
, not only do we feel as if we know her, we feel as if we are her. She is as searching, conflicted, confused, inspired, and passionate as we hope ourselves to be." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
, Joyce Carol Oates has produced a stupefying novel of iconicity. Though Oates has fused some real people into composites, and invented some characters and events out of whole cloth, she has stuck vampirically close to the details of Monroe's biography....Attempting to embellish chronology with an inner life, driving her narrative not with any kind of plot but with the leitmotifs of innocence, fantasy, sexual exploitation and Hollywood baseness, Oates gets very intimate indeed." Lee Siegel, The New Republic
(read The New Republic's entire review
In her most ambitious work to date, one of America's most celebrated writers examines the inner, spiritual life of the woman who became Hollywood's most enduring legend--Marilyn Monroe--as seen through her own eyes.
One of Americas most acclaimed novelists boldly re-imagines one of Americas most enduring icons in Blonde—the National Book Award-nominated bestseller by Joyce Carol Oates. The legend of Marilyn Monroe—aka Norma Jeane Baker—comes provocatively alive in this powerful tale of Hollywood myth and heartbreaking reality. Marilyn Monroe lives—reborn to tell her untold history; her story of a star created to shine brightest in the Hollywood firmament before her fall to earth. Blonde is a dazzling fictional portrait of the intricate inner life of the idolized and desired movie star as only the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates could paint it.
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.