cover image Misfit


Adam Braver. Tin House (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1935639404

In his latest historical reimagining (after taking on JFK's assassination in his novel Nov 22, 1963), Braver explores Marilyn Monroe's fatal struggle to simultaneously maintain her personal identity and her public image. The novel is set during the last weekend of Monroe's life, an ill-fated attempt to "disappear for a while" to Frank Sinatra's Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe and escape the demands of Hollywood's "industry clowns." From that dark, paranoid weekend, Braver delves into the events of Monroe's past%E2%80%94from being discovered by an army photographer while working in a wartime factory through her failed marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller%E2%80%94injecting each scene with a swelling sense of melancholia. We see her wrestling with image and reality both at her wedding to DiMaggio, in which her gaze towards the cameras reveals "not romance but the belief in it," and in her therapy sessions where she realizes that her old life as "Norma Jeane was ended years ago." Seamlessly blending fact and fiction, Braver penetrates the vivacious veneer of Monroe's on-screen persona to reveal a woman so adept at embodying a role, that "it swallows her whole." Through his gradual unfolding of Monroe's painful upbringing and her desire to be taken seriously in a world that values the superficial, Braver makes Monroe's tragic end freshly poignant. (July)