In this slim volume, Weatherford imagines a memoir written by Monroe, chronicling her life from her tumultuous childhood in foster care to her troubled final days in her L.A. home. It includes both personal, introspective pieces about Monroe’s internal struggles as well as pieces that catalog her film career and persona, and the public response to it.
I devour any biographical media of Monroe’s as she is my number one icon. As a teen, I stole a poster of her from a neighboring school’s production of Grease and it’s been on my wall ever since. This came very well-reviewed, so I figured it would be a slam dunk for me. And while I did read it in one sitting, it didn’t totally hit the mark for me.
Individually, some of the poems really knock it out of the park and some in stunningly few lines:
“The woman I need
most disappoints me over
and over. Mother.
“The role I want most
dies inside of me again
and again. Mother.”
The epilogue of the book is a list of headlines leading up to and following her death, closing with the headline regarding Hugh Hefner’s death and his purchased plot next to Monroe (which will always make me shudder, even now typing it).
But I find the poems that chronicle her film career to be less effective. Maybe this is because Weatherford is writing for an audience that she presumes may not be familiar with her roster like an adult fan, so some of it is repetitive for me (and I just finished feasting on Karina Longworth’s incredible podcast series of her life). But I think it’s more the format – she relies a lot on list-poems. So many lists! A poem with twenty lines of just character archetypes in movies, or a list poem of all the different “marilyns” the world sees, a list of titles on her bookshelf — I get what these poems are going for, but by the time I got the fourth or fifth one I was just skimming.
The format of the book is very lux, so it’s a special piece to have on your bookshelf – as a Marilyn fan, I may very well purchase it for that reason. No photos of her besides the cover (which is a shame) but lots of textures and gloss.
Others have really loved it, though – so I definitely encourage the curious to give it a go, especially since you’ll finish it up in an hour.