MMII: The Return of Marilyn Monroe

Sam Staggs, Author
Sam Staggs, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-55611-179-2
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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When a heavy-drinking, pill-popping Marilyn Monroe, delusional and in deep emotional distress, threatens to announce her plans to marry JFK, Bobby Kennedy has no choice but to put her away. That he does so twice--first, by substituting another woman's body as a suicide and, second, by having the CIA kidnap the real Marilyn and sequester her on a remote Colorado ranch--is the basic premise of this imaginative first novel, a combination of fairy tale and thriller. Deprived of her drugs and her film persona, Marilyn acknowledges her true self, the ""neglected, wistful orphan"" Norma Jean, and in this reawakened identity escapes her captors and makes her way to New York, where she intends to become a serious actress. MM's further adventures--ironic, poignant, suspenseful and humorous--make up the balance of the narrative. Staggs is a graceful stylist who knows MM inside out, everything from her breathy voice and her habit of trimming the heel of one shoe to make her hips undulate, to the lines she spoke in all of her roles. His recreated MM is a mixture of naivete and spunk, a dizzy dame and a reader of good literature, and most importantly, a survivor. Although some of the narrative seems sadly plausible while other passages veer close to parody, this remains an enticing read. (Feb.)
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