BOOK REVIEW: Marilyn Monroe: The Life, The Myth

Marilyn Monroe: The Life, The Myth
Edited By Giovan Battista Brambilla, Gianni Mercurio, Stefano Petricca
1996 Rizzoli
ISBN 0847819604

So here it is December once again and even though you’ve likely spent all you have on Christmas presents for other people, doesn’t that make it okay to spend a bit on yourself? Come on, even Santa figured out that you’d been good and you can always come up with some sort of rationalization when it comes to spending even more money on Marilyn, right?

So with all that in mind, I’ve got to tell you about a MM book that came to me as a gift a few years back. Feel like you couldn’t possibly find any more coffee table books on Monroe of any interest? That they’re all pretty much the same—lush photos, rags to riches, conquering Hollywood and on and on and on? I mean, really, by this point in the game how could you possibly find anything that’s new when it comes to yet another big photo book on Marilyn Monroe? Good news is this book, Marilyn Monroe: The Life The Myth, is Incredible and puts a whole new twist on what you want in a MM picture book. Bad news is you might feel guilty spending the money on yourself. Here’s why you should:

Haven’t you always wanted to see what the inside of that special international issue of LIFE with Marilyn and Olivier on the cover was like? Ever wonder what the articles behind all those great Italian magazine covers were like? Have you ever seen the actual LOOK magazine layout featuring Marilyn and Carl Sandburg or have you just seen some of the pictures? Have you ever felt just a tad odd about your preoccupation with this woman gone so long now? Would you feel better to see that it’s not just you, not just the US, but an entire globe full of people who share your admiration? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, there should be no guilt whatsoever in spending a bit of your holiday cash on yourself. Remember, the keyword for this time of year is INDULGE.

Created, edited and originally published in Italy, the book was such a success that it was then issued in the US. Now, as someone who doesn’t’ understand Italian, you can read a good and detailed text while looking at illustrations from all of those Italian fan magazines. Plus, (even though by now this is to be expected), the pages are of the highest quality paper, the illustrations and photographs are reproduced in the very best of printing techniques, and there’s plenty of terrific essays by names you recognize, (Eve Arnold, Carl Rollyston, Sam Shaw), even some you might not be familiar with, (Irene Bignardi, Marta Francocci, Antonello Villani).

The book covers just about everything it can from Monroe’s early modeling years, success in Hollywood, right up to the years as the planet’s reigning ultimate sex symbol. You’ll find sections concentrating on Marilyn and Advertising, Marilyn’s Fashion Sense, Monroe’s hold on Andy Warhol. There’s even a section of Marilyn as Muse offering some examples of her influence on contemporary art.

Look, I could go on and on, (as I often do), but no matter what I say, it all comes down to this: The book is fantastic. Get online and start in Googling—compare prices, find the best and just do it. Now. You may not know me but you will always be grateful you took my advice.

By David