Marilyn, Lois Banner

Marilyn Monroe is still a fascinating woman and the many book that have been published about her also shows that people still want to read about her.

The question is if these books can bring something new to the table. In 2012 Marilyn, the passion and the paradox by Lois Banner was published. She is a historian and a feminist and wanted to use that to discover a new Marilyn and this book is the result.

It follows the usual lines of a biography about Marilyn Monroe. Her childhood with a mother who went crazy and the many fosterhomes she lived in. Then the first steps into the world of entertainment and showbusiness. Photographs, then small roles in movies and finally success and fame. And with the success and fame came an even more turbulent personal live, resulting in a lonely death.

A book about Marilyn Monroe can never be boring, because she was not boring. But I do not know if this book gives us that much news.
That does not have to be a problem. A good biography can still be enjoyable even if all the facts are already known, but if you are saying you will bring something new, do it right and bring some substance.

What makes the book irritant to read is that the writer constantly says how great she herself is. She was the first one to discover this, the first one to interview that person or to see how important this or that was. And of course her viewpoint is new and important en therefore much better than that of all other biographers.
Lois Banner tries to make out if Marilyn was a feminist, a trivial and moot point if you ask me. She tries, but does not succeed, Marilyn was too complex to be captured in such simplistic terms.

It also becomes irritating how Lois Banner constantly emphasis that Marilyn had lesbian feelings (based on an incomplete remarke Marilyn made) and what her attitude to sex was. The many repetitions also made it a bit weird to read.

It is not a bad biography. It is interesting and it does give some extra information about Marilyn’s childhood.
I would not recommend to read this book as the first or only biography about Marilyn Monroe, but as an addition to the many other excellent biographies there are (and yes, there are many!), this book does have value.

Published in 2012