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MARILYN by Norman Mailer


A Biography

by Norman Mailer

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1973
ISBN: 0446718505
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

The necessary specifics first (before you flinch at the one with the dollar sign above) -- this is a coffee-table-shaped photovisual presentation of Marilyn including some 100 photographs (full page, black and white or color) representing the work of 24 major photographers. That aside, it is also a full length if free-form story of her life as nearly as it can be known -- perhaps it never will be -- so many inventions, including her own, abound. Marilyn was "every man's love affair with America." Mailer's too even if in the beginning you may be more conscious of him than his subject, or love object: Mailer with his endless "factoids" (a word all his own meaning emanations from the media); Mailer with his ripe persimmon prose ("an avowal of a womb fairly salivating in seed") sometimes turning to high on the hog ("and blows his nose to get the sexual gunk of the night before out of his nostril hairs"); Mailer hypothecating as guru on almost anything from psychoanalysis which he deplores to some of its speculation which he takes advantage of; Mailer as Mailer. But in time Marilyn appropriates the book beyond any question -- her shyness and vulnerability, her slovenliness, her undimmable expectancy, her variability, her creativity and artistic taste. And in time, particularly when time runs out, Mailer's writing becomes cleaner, sharper, stronger, catching the desperate downdrift of the last years from success to failures, from Greene to Miller to Sinatra, from nembutals to chloral hydrate -- certainly the sad facts need no reiteration here. The dazzling transaction that was Marilyn is all that matters and her immanent allure -- so hard to isolate or perpetuate -- is as palpable as it ever was.