Joyce Carol Oates on Marilyn Monroe

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A hundred books about Marilyn Monroe and uncounted photos don’t seem to have exhausted the questions about the power or the meaning of the iconic blond actress.

Groucho Marx saw her as “Mae West, Theda Bara and Bo Peep all rolled into one.” No fool herself, Monroe once wrote:

“Yes, there was something special about me, and I knew what it was. I was the kind of girl people expect to find dead in a hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand.”

We will never have enough of the story, Daphne Merkin wrote, because we “never tire of hearing about the native sadness behind the construction of glamour.”

This is what the tireless novelist Joyce Carol Oates set out to understand: not the icon we saw but the soul peering out of it: the desperate, hopeful cast-off child; who came to look like sex but seemed oblivious to it; who thought love would give her safety, and got neither.

Joyce Carol Oates and “Blonde” – in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Joyce Carol Oates