Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe

This book came out late last year and I immediately put it on my wishlist.  I don't know much about Marilyn Monroe, but I find her fascinating.  And I fell in love with her when I watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the first time.  How can you not love a character as sweet and naive as Dorothy Parker?  And, from what I've read, Marilyn was just the same (although maybe not as dumb).

Fragments is a collection of notes, poems, and letters that Marilyn wrote and saved.  These papers were not discovered until years after her death and now, after some careful deciphering (her handwriting was hard to read and her spelling is atrocious), these fragments have come to light.

There were many things in this book that I didn't know about Marilyn: she married at the age of 16 to escape the threat of returning to an orphanage when her foster parents moved out of state, her mother and grandmother had a history of mental illness, she was sexually assaulted as a child, and she was incredibly well-read.  However, I believe this book is better suited towards people who have already read a biography of Marilyn's life, because there were times the editor would refer to instances in her personal or professional life that I had never heard of before, but he assumed the reader was familiar.  Actually, this would work well as a companion book to any biography you may read, because the editor did his best to put her papers in chronological order; I feel this would enhance any further reading you may do.

All in all this book made me want to learn more about Marilyn Monroe, but it did teach me some things.  I don't believe she was as dumb as Hollywood made her out to be (how can you be when you read Ulysses for fun?), and I ultimately felt sorry for a woman who so obviously needed help but was unable to get it.

I'll leave you with two quotations that really stood out to me, one from Marilyn herself and one from her husband, Arthur Miller.

"It's not too much fun to know yourself too well or think you do - everyone needs a little conceit to carry them through & past the falls." ~Marilyn Monroe

"To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was.  Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes." ~Arthur Miller

3.5 stars out of 5.

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