Reviewer Gordon Osmond : Gordon is a produced and award-winning playwright and author of: So You Think You Know English--A Guide to English for Those Who Think They Don't Need One, Wet Firecrackers--The Unauthorized Autobiography of Gordon Osmond and his debut novel Slipping on Stardust.
He has reviewed books and stageplays for http://CurtainUp.com and for the Bertha Klausner International Literary Agency. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and practiced law on Wall Street for many years before concentrating on writing fiction and non-fiction. You can find out more about Gordon by clicking HERE
Publisher:Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises
Publisher:Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises
In a trailer for a classic film TV channel, after Marilyn Monroe's housekeeper rushes out for help for the unconscious film icon, the star awakes and smiles at the camera.(In a companion trailer, James Dean emerges from the wreckage of his high-speed car, dusts himself off, and walks away). In this memoir of Marilyn Monroe, author Sandi Gelles-Cole picks up Monroe's story at that point of resurrection and follows it through to her 85th birthday.
For a while, Marilyn's imagined afterlife bears a striking resemblance to her real one in its later years—horrific alcohol and drug dementia and impulsive wanderlust. In real life, Marilyn abandoned her film schedule to sing birthday wishes to President Kennedy. Shortly after being spirited out of the spirit world and freed of the murderous clutches of her housekeeper and psychiatrist by Joe DiMaggio's son, Joey, Marilyn takes off for Cuba where Fidel Castro pumps her for information about what the same President is up to politically.
Returning to the U.S. from Cuba, Marilyn bangs around Florida for a while and subsequently travels to New York where she acquires a young lover. The two travel to Rome and Spain where the lover ODs in one of the two countries (the text contradicts itself on this point). The reader learns later that the lover shared Marilyn's resistance to staying dead. Marilyn then experiments briefly with a same-sex relationship, rejects scatological and anal sex overtures, and finally rejects all and returns to conventional heterosexuality and California.
When her money runs low, Marilyn seeks rather obvious employment as a Marilyn impersonator. She acquires a slew of pets of her own while working as a volunteer at an animal shelter, which is later torched by a familiar face resulting in the disfigurement of Marilyn's. During all of this, Marilyn marries, this time happily. So happily in fact that she is willing to be broadminded when dealing with her husband's Jeff Chandler-like tendency to dress up in women's clothes.
Marilyn's inter vivos relationships are treated rather cursorily. Kennedy conspiracy theories and her marriage to Arthur Miller are summarily dismissed and her preference for Joey over Joe DiMaggio and for Susan Strasberg over Susan's parents are stated but not made central to her post mortem life. Monroe's arguably mediocre filmography is barely mentioned, the author leaving the juicy tidbits of her film career to other biographers of which there is hardly a shortage.
The Kennedy assassinations touched her deeply. It seems that those deaths, as her own, had a salutary effect on her "life." Nothing like death to bring out the best in one.
Whether intentional or not, the story is told in a rather rambling, copy and paste, and movie mag manner, much as Marilyn herself would have probably told it. Marilyn was not noted for her command of grammar, and her memoir reflects this incapacity. The ex-star is in one of her more confused states when she states that Joey DiMaggio, not her young lover, was appearing at a European night club.
Monroe was apparently an avid genealogist. "I would not go in the direction my mother or her mother or her mother's father did." I count that as no fewer than five generations.
The time warp aspect of the story has its humorous moments. It takes a certain degree of wryness for one widely believed dead to say, in commenting upon her current mode of attire, "I suppose I was ahead of my time." "I wanted to kill myself for so long, and then I died and got over it" is equally memorable. "I'm not making this up" also seems a rather unconvincing authorial assertion given the book at hand.
The imaginary Marilyn and today's very real Doris Day are in many ways comparable. Both were huge film stars, both had disastrous experiences with men, and both now live in California by the ocean with many beloved pets. I suppose it's to the credit of the author of this memoir that no one is likely to be writing now about the latter-day Day. It's more probable that Ms. Gelles-Cole or some other imaginative writer will create an afterlife for Elvis Presley.
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