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Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil (Icons of America) Hardcover – March 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300123280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300123289
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,524,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the first book any DiMaggio fan should read."—Allen Barra, San Francisco Chronicle
(Allen Barra San Francisco Chronicle)

"Jerome Charyn applies his considerable skills as a novelist to exploring the gnawing mysteries surrounding a man who 'was brutal in his devotion to the game.'"—Sam Roberts, New York Times (Sam Roberts New York Times)

“Jerome Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature and one of only three now writing whose work makes me truly happy to be a reader." — Michael Chabon

(Michael Chabon)

“Charyn […] is an American treasure….  Among this book’s virtues are brilliant passages of impassioned writing, […] and Charyn’s mastery of the popular culture in which baseball legends belong and thrive.”—Neil D. Isaacs, author of The Great Molinas and  All the Moves

(Neil D. Isaacs)

"An intimate and compassionate meditation on DiMaggio which, while elegantly dissecting his genius on the field, does him the equally important honor of placing no more on his shoulders than he can reasonably bear. Charyn reminds us that everything about DiMaggio was extraordinary, including his limitations."—David Margolick, author, Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink.
(David Margolick)

"Jerome Charyn's meditation on Joe DiMaggio elegantly explores what DiMaggio meant to America and the price he paid for making it all look so damn easy."—Randy Roberts, Distinguished Professor of History, Purdue University

(Randy Roberts 2010-11-29)

"[An] elegantly written and moving book. . . . This slender, nuanced mini-biography is as brilliant a piece of writing as I have ever read, with prose that is poetic, with a deep understanding of and feeling for DiMaggio."—Charles Stephen, Lincoln Journal Star
(Charles Stephen Lincoln Journal Star)

About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson and The Seventh Babe, a novel about a white third baseman on the Red Sox who also played in the Negro Leagues.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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And once you give up one passion, it leaves a void for another.
ThesySurface
Highly recommended for all baseball fans, 1940s culture buffs, Monroe junkies, or even just sports-literature enthusiasts in general.
Zachary Koenig
I highly recommend Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn.
Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ThesySurface on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
While browsing "Book Soup" on Sunset, I came across "Joe Di Maggio: The Long Vigil" by Jerome Charyn. It's really interesting. Mainly because it deals with the all-American sports hero not at his career prime nor at the peak of his glory, but his life after the spotlight.

Bios tend to emphasize the drama of their subject's struggle to fame and its eventual realization but in "Vigil" it was interesting to discover Charyn's emphasis on the years after, which were just as tumultuous for DiMaggio, internally at least.

Always private in life and ready to end the glare of the camera by retiring with grace, you nevertheless get a feel for how addictive fame can be (Jay-Z's own lyrics from "Lost One": Fame is / The worst drug known to man / It's stronger than, heroin) by the lack Joe felt once the public glare had left him. This was obviously not helped by marrying a woman who (arguably) became and still is the most famous woman in the world: Marilyn Monroe.

Having read pretty much every Marilyn Monroe bio there is, it was cool to read Charyn's take on the man's side of the story, as regards to their marriage. Losing overwhelming public adoration, while your hot wife is on the exact opposite swing, rising to icon status, seemed to be more psychologically damaging for poor Joe than dealing with the pressure of being a sports star. And yet, ironically, while getting into fits over how unhealthy all this mass attention on his wife was, he was equally obsessed and besotted with her.

The author goes so far as to describe the ex-Yankee as a regular stalker: Even after MM openly declared her love for Arthur Miller and when they were courting at New York's Waldorf Hotel, Joe would "wait in the alleys" outside, hoping to see her come out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ron Kaplan on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This year marks the 70th anniversary of one of those sports records still considered to be unbreakable: Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

While most of the books over the years -- especially those written in a long-ago time, when athletes were always heroic rather than mortal like the rest of us -- concentrate on the his accomplishments on the field, this year's offerings (the other being Kostya Kennedy's 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports), take a different and darker approach.

The subtitle The Long Vigil can be viewed in more than one way. In one, it represents DiMaggio's need to maintain his status as "The Greatest Living Ballplayer," a title officially bestowed upon him when baseball celebrated its centennial in 1969.

The dust jacket offers another angle.

Rather than the image of the Yankee Clipper in Yankee pinstripes, the photo -- taken by John Vachon for LOOK magazine in 1953 -- represents the main "accomplishment" of DiMaggio's post-career: his love affair with Marilyn Monroe, which continued long after their divorce and even past the Hollywood icon's death.

DiMaggio does not look especially happy in the photo, even though Monroe is smiling, perhaps whispering some loving nugget into his ear. There are no other photos in the book, as if Charyn did not want to intrude further on DiMaggio's notorious demands for privacy.

One word is repeated through The Long Vigil: "brood." Charyn portrays DiMaggio as a man who was never comfortable in his own skin, always wanting to be the best. He sought the accolades of an adoring public with one hand, but pushed them away with the other. Was that separation born of aloofness or an innate shyness/inferiority complex?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nicole VINE VOICE on March 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Joe DiMaggio as an autistic ballplayer is an interesting concept. Jerome Charyn explores this theory in "Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil." As an incredibly gifted athlete, the renowned New York Yankee excelled at hitting a curve ball out of the park or catching a long fly in centerfield. But away from the game, he lived a secluded life surrounded by a few, select people that he barely even talked to. His social skills were so poor that he had trouble reading his own name off a cue card.

Yet how did such an awkward, insecure man marry Marilyn Monroe? Charyn feels that the relationship was created as the ultimate public relations move. A nude calendar of Marilyn had surfaced and she wanted to rehabilitate her image by staging DiMaggio as her real life leading man. No one was viewed as more stable or reliable than The Yankee Clipper. What she never expected was that he would literally become obsessed with her.

The book is not a straight biography. Charyn inserts his own opinions and at times writes in the first person. At under 150 pages of text, it is not an overwhelming read. Instead it is a unique look at a man whose iconic status is tempered by very human flaws. His unbreakable concentration on the ballfield left him mentally drained and physically exhausted. This intensely driven quest for perfection was unendurable, yet it was a pattern he followed throughout his life. His sense of discipline was unmatched, but it lacked the heart and emotion that would allow others to connect with him. By keeping himself aloof and distant, Charyn describes DiMaggio as being above the world around him and not part of it.

A poignant passage revolves around DiMaggio's most legendary achievement - his 56 game hitting streak in 1941.
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More About the Author

Jerome Charyn, master of lyrical farce and literary ventriloquism, published his first novel in 1964. He's the author of Johnny One-Eye, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham, and dozens of other acclaimed novels as well as nonfiction works. His short stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative and Ellery Queen.

Charyn's popular crime novels, featuring homicide detective Isaac Sidel, inspired a new animated drama series. Hard Apple debuts on the small screen early next year.

Next up for Bronx-born Charyn is Bitter Bronx, bringing to life the pre- and post-Robert Moses world of New York's northernmost borough in thirteen bittersweet stories. (June, 2015 from Liveright/Norton)

He lives in New York and Paris.


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