Book Review :: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde a novel by Joyce Carol Oates published by Harper Collins book cover image

Guest Post by MG Noles

Editor’s Note: While we generally prefer new releases, we love to see contemporary takes on older titles and how readers relate to literature over time. Blonde was originally published in 2000, re-released in 2020, and will appear as a Netflix original film in fall 2022.

Marilyn Monroe’s life story is one that most film lovers assume they know well. However, in Blonde (2000), a fictional account of the legendary actress’s life, Joyce Carol Oates takes readers deep beneath the surface of Marilyn into the hidden crevices of her life and her mind. Oates’ words at times ring out like hammer blows. She writes, “Her problem wasn’t she was a dumb blonde, it was she wasn’t a blonde and she wasn’t dumb.”

Blonde leveled me. After reading it, I found myself dizzy with thoughts of the actress – her struggles, her loneliness, her tragic demise. Oates shows that those who encountered Marilyn saw her sadness firsthand and were touched by her. As described by a pharmacy clerk who waited on Ms. Monroe at Schwab’s Drugstore in Hollywood, “She seemed like the most alone person in the world.”

This book shows a hint of the infinite sadness that lies at the center of Ms. Monroe’s eyes. In films, viewers can see the wells of loneliness behind the technicolor. Reading it now in the #MeToo era makes us see the casting couch and all its cruelty for what it is: a maker of stars and a destroyer of lives.


Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. Harper Collins, 2000/2020.

Reviewer Bio: MG Noles is a hermit, reviewer, history buff, and nature lover.

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