on October 20, 2010
If you are looking for a book about Marilyn's life and dramatic details about being an orphan, foster child, and struggling in Hollywood, this isn't the book for you.
This book is for the people that truly cared about Marilyn the person, and want to learn about her true self. This is a book with her thoughts, feelings. There are poems, personal letters, and written thoughts throughout the book.
A high quality scanned picture of the actual page that she wrote things on is placed side by side with an easy-to-read transcription on the other page. The pictures included might not be new to some fans, but there are many beautiful pictures included.
Although the book is 230 something pages in length, it's actually half of that because of the scanned pictures, which contain the exact content of the transcripted pages. I also doubt this is the only content there is available of Marilyn's writings.
Overall, a book for anybody that would appreciate an insight into the woman that truly was Marilyn. A woman who loved, doubted herself, and fought interpersonally.
After reading this, her short life will be sincerely tragic, and you will see Marilyn in a new way, as a person, and not an object or another 50s actress, life most people do.
Marilyn Monroe was so much more than an actress or sex symbol, as proven in this book. She was a genuine human being.
Many a biography will come out and has come out on Marilyn, as her mystique and the public's fascination with her seems never to fade, but very few actually give you an idea of what she thought, who she was and how she saw the world around her. This beautiful collection of letters, poems and assorted writing is both touching and melancholic. I've read so many books on this lovely lady, but this is the first one that's ever really made me question on whether or not I really knew anything at all about Marilyn Monroe. She was so much more than she appeared to be. And that makes the tragedy of her short life all the more heartbreaking.
Was there a film star as famous as Marilyn Monroe? A star that became even more famous in death then in life. In the end all we know of her is what other people have written, or the photographs that were taken of her. All of it, the writing, the images, it has all been staged to make us think whatever it is the crafter wished us to respond to. All of it until NOW.
With this book Fragments, we have for the first time what Marilyn thought, what she wrote, and how she was. We see her gifts as a person and her craft, not the image, not the notoriety. In the 1950's she came to New York and grew very close to Lee Strasberg, who was the head of the Actor's Studio. Strasberg who we all know as the Meyer Lansky type figure in the second Godfather movie was very enamored of Marilyn as we all were.
The funniest line in the book is when Strasberg who is a stickler for being on time complains to her about being timely for meetings. She says she simply cannot be on time. Strasberg's response was, "Then be early."
When she died in the summer of 1962, she left her belongings to Strasberg who was married to a much younger woman Anna. Years later, Anna went through the boxes that Marilyn had entrusted to Strasberg. Mrs. Strasberg came across a collection of writings on random pieces of paper such as hotel stationery, envelopes, and a series of different notebooks never completed. The writings also included poems, some finished, some unfinished.
Much of the material was written in a disjointed fashion, with scribing and cross outs, sentences started here, and finished somewhere else. Marilyn had her own way of doing things. With the help of professional editing the authors were able to make the random writings begin to make sense, and the thought then became, can this be turned into a book?
The answer was a RESOUNDING YES.
Thus began the journey to take the unaltered writings of the real Marilyn Monroe and weave them into a manuscript that could be published, so that the rest of us could get to know the essence of this woman in an unvarnished fashion. I have gone through every page of this book and the results are both astounding and gratifying.
This is no DUMB BLOND
That's the first thing you need to understand. The public image was to sell sex, but behind it was a sensitive human being with a keen desire for both knowledge and introspection. She did not have a high school education, and so while a young star in Hollywood; she went to UCLA and studied the history of literature and American history as well. How many of us are doing that today?
She loved books and at the time of her death she owned more than 400 of them. She had without question read Milton, Whitman, Hemingway, Kerouac, Dostoyevsky, and Beckett. We all knew she had brains. The fact that she was married to one of America's greatest playwrights, Arthur Miller indicates that.
Miller had recommended that she read Carl Sandburg's six volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, which she did cover to cover. She loved art as exemplified by her knowledge of Dali, De Kooning, and Warhol, all three of whom she helped promote. She was also a student of the Italian Renaissance and appreciated Botticelli, Goya, and Degas.
ORGANIZATION OF FRAGMENTS
The book is laid out beautifully. I think of it as a work of art in itself. In a chronological manner the authors put Marilyn's writings on the left. It is actually a photograph of the original writing in her handwriting. You see the cross outs, add-ons, miss spellings and all the mistakes that you would never ever see in a book.
On the right hand side is a typed word for word transcription of what Marilyn wrote on the left. In addition you will see via an easy to understand system of black and red lines where the authors had to show the continuation of her thoughts in a different area of the page. This makes the entire page easy to read and to follow.
Strasberg demanded that the star undergo classic psychoanalysis in New York as a way to get in touch with herself as an actress. There is also much correspondence in the book, again in Marilyn's handwriting, some of which is with her analyst. Near the back of the book are two pages with photographs of some of the books from the star's personal collection. These include Madame Bovary, A Farewell to Arms, and the Sun Also Rises. Put it all together and you get incredible insights into who Marilyn Monroe really was.
For those of us who were smitten with her, this is a wonderful addition to our libraries. I have never accepted the official version of her death based on the circumstances as I understand them, and as the years go by and new information becomes available, it seems less likely that she died of her own hand. It is also too convenient for a lot of people that no longer wanted her around but this is another story for another book.
If you FRAGMENTS, you will get to know a brilliant, savvy young woman who loved knowledge, life, reading, introspection, and oh yes, she just happened to be the most famous actress of her generation. You will love this book. Pick yourself up a copy and get to know her as we never have, and thank you for reading this review.
Richard C. Stoyeck
Marilyn Monroe was apparently a very lonely person in a sea of endless admirers. She once wrote: "Alone!!!!! I am alone - I am always alone no matter what" From this book we also learn that Marilyn Monroe was a tortured soul who was also disorderly and who wrote down thoughts in a very chaotic way. If you want to try to read her notes written in notebooks and on envelopes or torn-out pages, I'd suggest you get the actual book. While it is possible (with great difficulty) to read some of the typed letters it is nearly impossible to read the handwritten notes. Marilyn's handwriting is nearly illegible.
What is surprising is how confident Marilyn Monroe appears in her movies and how insecure she felt in real life. Even more shocking is that such a beautiful soul was depressed and wished she was dead! Some of her poems indicate this.
Also, from such a sexy person you would expect a much larger amount of sensual writing. There is one note about not wearing a bra and this made her feel sensual. But other than this one note and a poem about one of her husbands, she seems silent on this subject. Instead what she says about her marriage is this: "I think to love bravely is the best and accept-as much as one can bear."
What I loved most about this book is the great quantity of black-and-white photographs throughout, especially any picture where Marilyn is reading. It was also surprising to read that she owned a library of 400 books!
While many of the poems in this book are revealing, the lines I love best reveal a profound beauty of soul: "but strong as a cobweb in the wind - I exist more with the cold glistening frost."
If she had not died at such a young age, I imagine she would have written many more beautiful poems. Last but not least this book includes a beautiful eulogy and a short biography. I'd like to see the publisher lower the price to $9.99 on the Kindle version since most of the letters and notes are not easy to read (although many are typed out - yet sometimes in so small a type...it is difficult to read). You will get more of your money's worth buying a regular book although instant gratification is a wonderful thing.
~The Rebecca Review
on October 12, 2010
Marilyn Monroe has gone down in history as one of, if not THE sex symbol of the 20th century.
Though on screen, she often portrayed a "dumb blonde", she was extremely intelligent and constantly reading. She also wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, not just be a beauty to all of those she encountered. While some may find her acting not very great, perhaps after reading this book and her thoughts on acting, your perception may change. She constantly worked on perfecting her craft, and that is shown within this book.
She also yearned for an understanding of herself in a way, and her notes of self-analysis aren't something to miss. Her poetry is very unique, I like it very much. It shows the fight for understanding.
All in all, this book should not be passed up. It features rare photographs and a look into a very complex person. Behind the glitz and glamour, we are finally able to see a glimpse of the real Marilyn Monroe.
Her life and untimely death are surrounded in mystery. Perhaps now, we may find answers.
I have to start out by saying that I honestly have never been a huge Marilyn Monroe buff - bowing my head I admit that I have never seen one of her films. However, I have heard endless talk of this sensationalized woman, as well as having watched a few bios of her and reading articles about her. Marilyn Monroe's story fascinates me and I find her life struggles and unexplained death heart-rendering. This is a woman whose name and story everyone knows and hypothesizes about. When I first heard of this book, Fragments, I was instantly intrigued and dying to read a copy. Here are my thoughts...
I know many may shake their heads in sadness that this woman's deepest thoughts and desires are now published in the public eye, for all to see. A woman whose privacy was nearly non-existent, now exploited, even in death. While I do share a bit of guilt in my fascination, I found Fragments to be a wondrous delve into the persona of a highly stereotyped and misunderstood young woman. With personal letters, notes, poems, recipes and random jottings, readers will get a bit of a glimpse into Ms. Monroe's life, her struggles and her misgivings. This was a young woman, who, it seems, never truly felt whole or happy in her own skin. For me, the book was a very eye-opening experience and I discovered many things that I had not previously known prior to reading it. I had not known that her biological mother suffered mental illness, or the fact that Marilyn, herself, was put into a mental ward for a time, against her will. This may be well known by some, but new for me.
In addition to discovering such tidbits, I was intrigued by Marilyn's thought process and her poems filled with her own churning emotion. On such poem, which truly grabbed me, is found on page 73:
That silent river which stirsand swells itself with whatever passes over it
wind, rain, great ships.
I love the river never unmoored
It's quiet now
And the silence is alone
except for the thunderous rumbling of things unknown
distant drums very present
but for the piercing of screams
and the whispers of things
sharp sounds and then suddenly hushed
to moans beyond sadness-terror beyond
The cry of things dim and too young to be known yet
The sobs of life itself
You must suffer-
to loose your dark golden
when your covering of
even dead leaves leave you
strong and naked
you must be-
alive-when looking dead
straight though bent
And bear the pain & the joy
of newness on your limbs
The letters, poems and other renderings are presented as original pieces, followed by a typed version to enable easier reading and interpretation for the readers. Editors did make simple spelling corrections on the typed version, which is marked in red. I found it incredibly interesting to look upon the actual writings of Ms. Monroe, her handwriting itself, her sometimes random-looking notes and ideas. I have always been intrigued by long-ago notes and letters, handwriting styles and language, this is no different. These writings were all bequeathed to her dear friend Lee Strasberg, upon her death in 1962. They were then turned over to Mr. Strasberg's wife, Anna, upon his death in 1982. It is from there that the adventure of Fragments began.
Fragments is presented in such a way that, I believe, it is not meant to be prying or solicitous, but rather a journey of truth into the deeply misunderstood life of a young woman. There are a few editor's notes here and there, as well as a chronology of Marilyn's life included. Otherwise the entire book is contrived of Marilyn's own thoughts and writings, as well as gorgeous pictures depicting her life. The copy of Fragments that I read is a library copy, but I hope to add a personal copy to my own library, here at home, soon. This is a book that will capture the hearts of long-time fans of Marilyn Monroe, as well as those just wanted to discover the humanness of a lovely woman. I do have to mention that after reading this, my interest in Ms. Monroe has been highly piqued and I have picked up a couple of her bios since and hope to watch a few of her movies in the future.
on October 23, 2010
I'll start my review by making some personal comments first; I don't usually review books, but since this is about Marilyn Monroe and since I am also a fan of hers, I'll make an exception in this case.
One of the main reasons in purchasing `Fragments' was to read her poetry, sadly, there's not that much in my view, (Very Disappointing) and as a poet myself I would have liked more, (perhaps her complete collection-as yet as I understand it, there is no book that has her complete poetry, 'My Sex is Ice Cream:The Marilyn Monroe Poems' by Nellie McClung, comes to mind, but as I don't know if this has all of Marilyn's poetry, I can't really comment, but if there is a book out there, please let me know) searching the Internet you can found some of Marilyn's poetry which isn't in this book; although I did recognise two of Marilyn's poems within 'Fragments', but overall the book only offered (extended) glimpses. If Marilyn had lived, I think she would have produced a book of poetry, with great success, in my mind.
As for the rest of `Fragments', I am in two minds, at first I was very excited about reading Marilyn's thoughts, as this would give me an insight into her world so I could understand her and not just as an actress, but as a person.
Marilyn was a woman of deep reflection, not just about herself, her doubts, her being and her reason for living, but about her world around her and the people she came into contact with, `Fragments' shows Marilyn's intellect (a dumb blonde she is not); she tried so hard to comprehend her world, to prove to others, she was more than the 1950s icon, which we now associate.
No one really gave her a chance to prove her worth in Hollywood, so Marilyn rebelled to only way she could. In the end, the system in which she was apart, became too much, and took its toll, thus she passed away on that day in 1962.
In all honesty, if `Fragments' was not about Marilyn, the book would not be in publication-why? It's simple, we in society have this mystique about a woman that the media has hounded in her lifetime to get inside her head-they couldn't leave her alone. `Fragments' in my mind is an invasion of a woman's emotional, private, personal thoughts; do we have the right to read those thoughts now that Marilyn has passed away? Would she approve of this book if Marilyn were still alive today? I personally believe that Marilyn would not approve of `Fragments', they were her private thoughts for a private person, who needed to write down her `Meaning of Life', so she could make sense of it all and put herself and the world in perspective.
So I have to ask why publish it? Well, I have an answer to this too, to preserve written history about a woman we know so little about, the mystique is a little less mysterious when we read about how Marilyn thought about her world. We begin to respect her point of view, and more importantly respect Marilyn as a decent human being, with emotional feelings she tried to understand within herself.
`Fragments' is a personal journey, full of emotions about a woman's understanding in herself, in her career as an actress, and in her personal relationships with people that have influenced her until her death. It is a fascinating look into a person's mind, a piece of personal history about a woman we just can't get enough of.
I would like to give this book 5 stars, but I can't, I am still in two minds about it, and sitting on the fence trying to decide which way to go. This book is a personal journey and I feel, I am invading Marilyn's world without her permission-but I do it out of respect. When I read `Fragments', I feel I am holding a piece of her mind-if not herself; and strange as it may seem, Marilyn's presence is also felt when I read what she wrote. Is Marilyn seeking my voice of approval in her private thoughts? Or perhaps her understanding, in expressing what she felt through her tortured (too harsh?) years?
If you are a Marilyn fan and or collector then `Fragments' is a worthy addition to your library, (But there are still holes-and rightly so). But remember, purchase this book with respect, not because you want it or need it, but because you want to remember about a woman who gave you her memories, not just in movies but in the written word.
We have here a unique physical representation of Marilyn, showing various emotional abilities. A woman seeking as are we, the meaning of ourselves.
`Fragments' is a book that reveals a different Marilyn, a side of which we must understand, if we are to understand her and her world (1950s).
A very personal journey.
Perhaps the following poem by Marilyn may reflect her and her fragmented persona (the last line may refer to physical energy) trying to be one with herself.
Help this weary being
To forget what is sad to remember
Lose my loneliness,
Ease my mind,
While you eat my flesh.
Rest in Peace....Dear Marilyn.
on October 20, 2010
A wonderful look into the mind of the tortured goddess. I couldn't read it all in one sitting, as there is so much to read, and also because it is so sad at times. Marilyn wrote on the top of one paper, "I am alone, always alone no matter what."
The book has her papers on one side and the editors' "translation" on the other. (Some of the writing is hard to read).
It makes her the more tragic. She seemed to have it all but was lonely, misunderstood, and needed more help than she received.
Contains her jots and poems from notebooks and journals and notes to herself also. A short list at the end of her favorite books is included. Plus there are some beautiful photos. Any fan needs this for their collection.
on October 13, 2010
Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, is an intimate look into the mind of Hollywoods most celebrated actress. With various in-depth writings and poems in high quality scans, it feels as if you have picked up Marilyn's diary (or stationary from her hotel room) and are reading her thoughts and poems. The editors "interpretation/translation" on the adjacent pages helps further understand the writings, as some are hard to read with all her arrows and cross-outs.
Great coffee table read, a must have for all Marilyn fans.
on March 11, 2011
I was intrigued by a review I read of this book in a magazine waiting somewhere. It was the photographs of her letters and writings that caught my eye: they made her seem so real to me whereas she had always merely been a legend in my mind. I was never actually a Marilyn Monroe fan, but my curiosity was piqued so I bought the book. I was not disappointed. What a surprise this book was! Her work makes it clear how difficult it must have been to be so misunderstood by the public. She is articulate, creative, intelligent, and yes, somewhat tortured. Behind every line is a woman I would have liked to have known. The mistaken image almost every American had of this complex woman makes her death a little more understandable...and even more sad.