Elevate Difference

Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters

Everyone knows about the tragic life of bombshell Marilyn Monroe, whose nickname “Miss Golden Dreams” would indicate nothing of how brief her existence would be. At thirty-six, the “orphan” with a mentally damaged mother and no father to call her own was found naked and dead in her Los Angeles home, apparently from suicide. With three divorces, several miscarriages, and plenty of roles depicting her as a dumb blonde, not even Monroe’s celebrated curves, sapphire blue eyes, or perfectly heart-shaped face were enough to keep her smiling. No fame or money could save the starlet with the little girl voice from the many demons that haunted her.

Since her passing in August 1962, hundreds of books have attempted to capture the patron saint of tragic screen sirens. Now, forty-six years later, Monroe speaks for herself in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, the sleek hardcover edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment. Fragments gives us a glimpse of a woman who was used and misused many times over. Finally, we have the truth of who really was one of the twentieth century’s greatest icons.

This book is a collection of Monroe’s poems, letters, notes, diary entries, and even recipes that were kept hidden-until now. However, the first few pages confirms what many have long suspected—that she suffered from a dark depression, which wasn't widely talked about during her lifetime.

Despite seeking guidance from several doctors, Monroe wasn’t afraid to further examine how she felt, even noticing how her sadness was affecting her physical beauty, including “eyes dulled, cheeks flushed with capillaries that look like rivers on maps” and “hair lying like snakes.” Using a poetic language, undoubtedly inspired by her passion for literature, Monroe expertly depicted herself as “a dancer who cannot dance,” a turbulent storm who couldn’t be embraced by the men she sought.

Monroe’s marriage to Yankees baseball star Joe DiMaggio may have been a match made in tabloid heaven, but it was her relationship with playwright Arthur Miller that proved more telling, and perhaps more damning, than any of her other romances. From her rainbow collection of books, as seen in Fragments, to her determination to attend the Actor’s Studio in New York City, it was of no surprise that Monroe would be drawn to someone who can satisfy her desire to learn. Yet, when Monroe found her husband’s diary in 1956 and discovered how shameful he felt when she was around his intellectual peers, we’re able to feel how heartbroken she must have been over this shocking surprise.

“I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really,” Monroe reveals in Fragments, later stating, “I think to love bravely is the best and accept-as much as one can bear.”

Despite that Monroe was desired by thousands of men as the dress flying “girl” or diamond-obsessed Lorelei Lee, the real life pinup suffered from the same sorrows that all women face when they’ve been betrayed.

While Monroe was one of the first actresses to launch a production company in spite of the star factories of Hollywood studios, Fragments shows that her accomplishments weren’t enough to fulfill what she always wanted: love.

It’s certain that loyal Monroe fans will instantly fall head over heels for Fragments. Even curious listeners can also learn a thing or two about the actress who continues to captivate audiences a century later.

There are still many unanswered questions, yet Fragments ultimately reveals how Monroe was a curious, hopeful and passionate woman willing to overcome the many obstacles that came her way by trying to control of her fate. Fragments exposes not the love goddess we’ve come to worship, but the misunderstood mortal who wouldn’t live long enough to find what she so desperately searched for.

Written by: Stephanie Nolasco, January 29th 2011

This review is skillfully written and moved me to tears. Bravo, you.

Great review. As a Marilyn fan and a feminist, I look forward to this read.