Fashion All The Rage

The literary side of Marilyn Monroe

Since her death on Aug. 5, 1962, hundreds of books about Marilyn Monroe have been published by various writers, ranging from famous names such as Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem and Joyce Carol Oates, to people who worked with her on movie sets. With so many choices, its hard to navigate through the Monroe oeuvre, but here are 10 volumes that should nourish the soul of her most ardent fans.

"Marilyn: A Biography" (1973). Norman Mailer's controversial, lavish, coffee-table exploration of Monroe includes stunning images by several noted photographers as well as the author's rather grandiose prose. An example: "She was not the dark contract of those passionate brunette depths that speak of blood, vows taken for life, and those furies of vengeance if you are untrue to the depth of passion, no, Marilyn suggested sex might be difficult and dangerous with others but ice cream with her."

"My Story" (1974). This autobiography, which was co-written with award-winning playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht ("The Front Page"), features Monroe waxing poetic on her life up until 1954.

"Marilyn Monroe: In Her Own Words" (1983). Excerpts of interviews and statements to the media, compiled by Roger G. Taylor.

"Conversations With Marilyn" (1976). William J. Weatherly penned this book of his conversations with, and observations of, Monroe on the troubled set of "The Misfits" in 1960, her final completed film.

"The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe" (1984). Fred L. Guiles' comprehensive biography updates material and conclusions from his 1969 book, "Norma Jean: The Life of Marilyn Monroe."

"Marilyn" (1997). Feminist Gloria Steinem, who had walked out of the 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" because she was embarrassed by Monroe's dumb blond persona and performance, explores the woman behind the myth. George Barris supplied the photographs.

"Marilyn Monroe: The Biography" (1993). Donald Spoto's exhaustive portrayal of Monroe used previously sealed letters, diaries and other papers, and some 150 interviews.

"Marilyn" (1998). Barbara Leaming based her psychological study of Monroe on interviews and documents, including letters from Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan and Monroe's psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson.

"Blonde" (2000). Joyce Carol Oates' biographical novel was critically acclaimed.

"Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words: Marilyn Monroe's Revealing Last Words and Photographs" (1995). Photographer George Barris interviewed and shot Monroe during the last two months of her life for a proposed autobiography.

susan.king@latimes.com

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