ISSUE DATE: July 16, 1973
It has taken Norman Mailer nearly five decades to achieve a truly Monrovian status. But he is still fantasizing. “I come from Brooklyn,” says Mailer, “and she had the basic stuff out of which Brooklyn dream girls are made.” Besides, “I felt some sort of existential similarities with Marilyn Monroe.” Both, in fact, were seen as romantic symbols, larger than lifestyle. Both were reconciliations of opposites: Mailer described himself as a radical conservative, a combination of street toughness and book learning. Monroe was the essence of soft, vacuous femininity−but she could be as bright and unyielding as a diamond, and she had deep yearnings for intellectuality. Both were disproportionately rewarded and resented. What could be more fortuitous than the meeting of these two uniquely American superstars? The project belongs in lights: Gentleman Prefers Blonde: NM Meets MM. Out of such amalgams come great legends, heavy bestsellers−but alas, not great biographies.
Not that it matters. Mailer’s new Marilyn is a book of gargantuan propensities. It is giant in format (9 in. by 11 in.), formidable in price and weight ($19.95, 3 Ibs. 3 oz.), and incalculable in impact. It will soon be excerpted for publication in a dozen countries−including Finland, France and Japan. More than a million lbs. of paper will be used for its first American printing (in Monroe County, N.Y.) of 285,000 copies. The Book-of-the-Month Club has made Marilyn its main selection for August−the most expensive book ever so offered to the membership. A TV special and screen bio are being planned. Doubtless there will also be Marilyn Monroe posters, buttons, dresses and hair styles. An industry is under way, triggered by this irresistible shotgun wedding of talents.
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