by Sukey HowardJune, 2000
A candle in the wind After the seemingly endless stream of Marilyn Monroe books, Joyce Carol Oates's extraordinary novel Blonde is something of a revelation. With judicious use of literary license and deeply intuitive understanding, Oates recreates the public, flashbulb-flooded life of "the greatest sex symbol of the twentieth century," and her hellishly insecure, precariously unstable private life. Jayne Atkinson's performance in this audio presentation adds enormous dimension and depth. Without overacting, without cliche or caricature, she captures Monroe's breathy, hesitating voice and with it captures both the vixen and the victim, Norma Jean and the mythic Marilyn, the exploitable innocent who survived a nightmarish childhood, the determined, dedicated actress, the self-destructive blond bombshell who grew increasingly angry and distrustful, and who, with her suicide, finally escaped. This is a mesmerizing nine hours of listening, followed by an exclusive interview with the author.