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MARILYN by Carole Nelson Douglas

MARILYN

Shades of Blonde

By Carole Nelson Douglas

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-85737-3
Publisher: Forge

 Thirty-five years after her death, Marilyn Monroe lives, and dies, again in this collection of 21 new stories. Although only Eileen Dreyer acknowledges that ``I'm not as interested in Marilyn Monroe as I am in the image of Marilyn Monroe,'' the same is equally true of all the contributors here, because Monroe's life and personality have been so relentlessly mythologized over the years that even attempts to get at the real Monroe behind the breathlessly seductive image end up settling for a remarkably homogenous set of ``real'' myths. Whether she's hiring a shamus at the dawn of her career (Martin and Annette Meyers), rescuing Khrushchev from assassination (Barbara Collins), scanning her horoscopes for the weekend of her death (J.N. Williamson), conversing with the death angel (Billie Sue Mosiman), joining forces with a mother-daughter pair of thieves (T.J. MacGregor), telling a medium about her abused childhood (Melissa Mia Hall), or bearing John Kennedy's love-child (Peter Crowther and editor Douglas, though there are broad hints in many more stories and a neat twist on the theme by Jill M. Morgan), Norma Jeane Mortenson is monotonously wise, sensitive, professional, well-read, vulnerable, and a sucker for kids. It's frustrating to see a myth turned inside-out so often in such banal terms. The most successful stories are those that use Monroe's myth instead of trying to get beyond it by putting Monroe on 165th Street (Linda Mannheim) or in the underworld (Elizabeth Ann Scarborough) or a drag queen's arms (Janet Berliner and George Guthridge). Fortunately, the two most ambitious stories, Carolyn Wheat's kaleidoscopic account of filming Some Like It Hot and Nancy Pickard's fable about the week that Monroe's healing image miraculously appeared on Mt. Rushmore, are also the best. Douglas (Cat With an Emerald Eye, 1996, etc.) provides waves of delight for Monroephiles, though there's not much illumination deeper than Gloria Steinem's neo-feminist analysis.