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The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe Hardcover – December 6, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (December 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151013721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151013722
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

O'Hagan (Be Near Me) conjures canine narrator Maf, short for "Mafia Honey," to introduce readers to a world where dogs' playful manners belie their capacity for philosophy--Maf is a Trotsky fan--cats speak in poetic form, and animals provide a gateway into their owners' thoughts and dreams. A circuitous path leads Maf into the arms of Frank Sinatra just as he's looking for a gift for Marilyn Monroe. With his new owner, the lucky pup has a period of perfect companionship in New York City, attending Sammy Davis Jr. shows, sitting in on analyst appointments, witnessing Sinatra tantrums, and attending literati gatherings where those whose artistic sensibilities run counter to his risk being bitten. Between Maf's ruminations on dog and human nature, his favorite famous dogs, and the best parks in the world, he bemoans Marilyn's decline. O'Hagan's witty novel is packed with allusions, and though Maf gives color and nuance to some historical A-listers, Marilyn, remains unfortunately elusive. This familiar slice of Americana gets a much-needed shaking up from an erudite pooch.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

“Good book. Good dog,” (St. Petersburg Times) was the general consensus from critics, who had begun reading Maf the Dog with extreme skepticism. Who could blame them? That said, reviewers in the United Kingdom were able to suspend their belief far more easily than those in the United States. But in the end, most were won over, or at least entertained, by this canine memoir. While critics described it as witty, elegant, and original, they also acknowledged that awareness of both Hollywood, high literary culture, and the 1960s is helpful when navigating Maf’s thoughts. One exception to the solid reviews came from the Washington Post critic, who begrudged every minute spent with that “pedantic pooch.” Be forewarned: even those who enjoyed the book admitted it wasn’t for everyone.

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Customer Reviews

It's not particularly funny, nor insightful.
I wanted to put it down many times, but I kept pushing on, hoping that the promise of the book would be fulfilled.
I didn't understand why he would have all these conversations with ants and birds.
Kristin Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Valerie J. Wood VINE VOICE on December 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I ordered this book with a healthy dose of skepticism, as I am a lifelong Marilyn Monroe fan and have read scores of books about this exquisite, supremely talented woman. Would this be another attempt to capitalize on her legend or would this book have something more to offer? Marilyn's fans know that Maf (short for 'Mafia Honey') was a gift to her by her friend Frank Sinatra--the name given to the dog by Marilyn because of Frank's alleged (ahem) Mafia ties. The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe is narrated by Maf.

This book is truly a mixed bag. There are pages of brilliance and it is quite apparent that the author, Andrew O'Hagan, has an in-depth grasp of the personalities who appear in the book. Detailed minutia, particularly regarding Dr. Kris, abounds and it is obvious that the author has strong familiarity with those in Marilyn's inner circle in New York. He has painted Marilyn in a quite positive light--she is funny, kind, thoughtful and witty--and believable.

Where I had problems with this book--and what kept me from giving a 5 star rating--primarily focuses on the pages/passages which seem to digress from the story and don't have a relevance. Also, and this is my personal opinion swaying this--the characters of Dr. Greenson and Mrs. Murray are a bit too 'kind.' And, spoiler here for the ending--the book itself abruptly finishes somewhere around the point in Marilyn's life (Spring/Summer of 1962) where she was having problems with 20th Century Fox after having flown to NY to sing "Happy Birthday" at JFK's party. Also, there is zero mention even in passing of Joe DiMaggio.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ripple on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
On the plus side, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe has several things going for it. Firstly, the title which grabs your interest. Some of the writing is quite wonderful too - O'Hagan has a lovely way with words. The concept itself, while not perhaps truly original (an anthropomorphic take on animals and in particular here, the canine narrator) is interesting and this particular pooch is mixing in circles in which there is endless fascination (not only about Marilyn, but also Sinatra, Natalie Wood, Sammy Davis, Kennedy et al). Maf you see is a dog, gifted to Marilyn by `Ol Blue Eyes and it is through his eyes that we see the last period of Marilyn's life. And true there are both some interesting observations (though not particularly about Monroe) and a modicum of humor (although it was not as funny as I had expected).

The problem for me is that all these ingredients don't hang together terribly well and it's a bit of, well, a dog's dinner. In fact, I'd go so far to say that parts of it are really quite dull - and that's surprising given all the other factors. Maf is prone to philosophy - again, I don't have a particular issue with that, but it doesn't really have any effect on the narrative other than to bog it down. It's not particularly funny, nor insightful. In fact it leads to more questions as it's unclear where Maf gained this insight.

And sure, he keeps getting taken out with Marilyn on her trips to parties, sets, therapists etc, but there is little narrative coherence about these events and they seem to just plod along - and it's next to impossible to track the time frames of the book. I had high expectations of this book (which can be a problem) but I was sadly disappointed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steve Benner VINE VOICE on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
"The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his friend Marilyn Monroe" by Andrew O'Hagan is a book that will probably sell mostly for its title. Consequently, I suspect, many of those who buy it (and regardless of whether they have sampled its opening pages) will be sorely disappointed with it. The book is based on a number of clever (although far from original) conceits, the principal of which is that dogs (as well as other animals) are sensitive to the thoughts and dreams of humans (most especially for dogs, of their owners) and thus, over time, accumulate a deep understanding of and love for human thinking, which imbues them with a profound propensity for endless philosophising. Sadly, all attempts to vocalise their endless musings are invariably perceived as nothing more than barks, yaps and other meaningless or annoying noises, making the trait more frustrating than useful.

In choosing as his protagonist not only a dog from real life but also one that was known to be the almost constant companion of a famous individual who is nowadays regarded as herself occupying something of a shadowy world of semi-make believe, frustrated in her attempts to find or make her true self known to others -- as well as now heavily shrouded in mystique, notoriety and offering a perfect candidate for voyeurism -- O'Hagan sets up an endless series of potential directions for his novel. And there, I think, is the rub; while providing countless possible themes and in a setting laced with the poignancy, scandal and intrigue, most readers are likely to be disappointed with the direction that the author actually chooses to take.
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