Sunday, August 18, 2013

Misfit by Adam Braver



This book consists of a series of vignettes from the tragic life of Marilyn Monroe, framed by the last weekend of her life, which she spends at Frank Sinatra’s Cal Neva lodge in Lake Tahoe.

There are episodes from her childhood, where she is sexually molested then beaten and accused of lying by her religious fanatic foster mother, scenes from her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and her days studying at the Actors Studio under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg. We see her as a young bride, working at the Radioplane factory while her husband is away at war, being snapped by a photographer from Yank Magazine, the first step on the road to stardom, and, at the end, keeping the crew and the ailing movie legend Clark Gable waiting for hours on the set of her last completed movie, The Misfits, and swimming nude on the set of the incomplete Something’s Got To Give, before the final strip, on the mortician’s table.

If you are hoping this novel will bring you fresh insight and a better understanding of the enigmatic Marilyn, I’m afraid to say you are probably in for a disappointment. I really wanted to like this book, and I’m not saying the scenes from Marilyn’s life depicted here weren't interesting or well-written, just that, for this reader at least, the magic just wasn't there, for me the whole thing was as flat and lifeless as Marilyn’s corpse in the final chapter. I learned that on the day Marilyn married Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio the grandson of Albert Einstein pled guilty to vandalizing a Coke machine and stealing $1.10 in change from it and Duncan Hines unveiled a new mix promising homemade quality without the work of actually making a real homemade cake, but Marilyn herself remains the elusive and insecure woman most people already know she was.  And for those particularly interested in the mysteries surrounding her death, this book skips her last night entirely and goes straight to the morgue and the mortician’s despair over the autopsy’s destruction of Marilyn’s famous bosom.

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