OVERRIDE

The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe

Sarah Churchwell

Picador

There are many Marilyns: sex goddess and innocent child, crafty manipulator and dumb blonde, liberated woman and tragic loner. In The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, cultural critic Sarah Churchwell gives us a biography—and a lit-crit evaluation of the literature. In incisive, well-crafted prose, she reviews the many unreliable and unverifiable—but highly significant—stories that have framed this greatest Hollywood legend, from the circumstances of her birth to the mystery surrounding her death. Peeling back the fantasies, fallacies, and falsehoods that have colored the portraits of Monroe, Churchwell uncovers the shame, belittlement, and anxiety that we bring to the story of a woman we supposedly adore. In the process, the author reveals to us our very selves: our conflicted views on women, our tormented sexual attitudes, our ambivalence about success, our fascination with self-destruction. And she rescues a Marilyn Monroe who is far more complicated and credible than the one we think we know.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe

"[A] sustained, strenuous critique of the lazy thinking, sloppy research, and overall softheadedness that characterize so much popular biographical writing."--A. O. Scott, The New York Times Book Review
 
"Smart, graceful, and lucid, this is a veritable Sherman's March through the Marilyn oeuvre, with bodies--Mailer, Oates, Miller--strewn everywhere. Instead of a torch, however, Churchwell wields a rapier, and if she flays the authors, it is to lay bare the anatomy of authorship in all its tangled complexity."--Peter Biskind, author of Down and Dirty Pictures
 
"Refreshing . . . Her book has torn away layers of false readings and conspiracy theories."--The New York Times
 
"Humane and skeptical . . . Churchwell has written an extremely useful deconstruction of the piffle that has accreted around her subject over the years . . . offering realistic alternatives to spiraling fantasies."--Richard Schickel, Los Angeles Times
 
"Ferociously smart . . . offers a rare combination of guilty pleasure and intellectual insight."--Vogue
 
Sarah Churchwell wades through the conflicting bios of the legend so that you don't have to. . . . She provides a fair accounting of the ink spilled thus far and calls attention to the many veils between Marilyn and her audience."--The Village Voice
 
"This intelligent and subtle book reminds us that Marilyn Monroe, in our fantasies, was a Snow White we pretended was a Cinderella: the slipper was never going to fit. In telling us the real story of so many wild tales about this mythologized figure, this study shows us that there is truth in lies too, as Hollywood used to insist, if you get enough of them. And if--big if--your mind is as alert and agile as Sarah Churchwell's."--Michael Wood, author of America in the Movies

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Sarah Churchwell

  • Raised in Illinois, Sarah Churchwell was educated at Vassar and Princeton and is now a professor of American literature and culture at the University of East Anglia.
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The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe

Sarah Churchwell

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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