Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The Marilyn Tapes now 99 cents
Back in 1993 I decided to write a historical novel about the Kennedy-Marilyn Monroe hookup. I wasn't going to write a serious historical novel as Max Allan Collins does with his Hellers (he's the master of the form), instead I was doing a kind of Harold Robbins pastiche. Middle-period Robbins when he crime began to appear in his books. I was a huge Robbins fan until he went whacky on drugs.
Months before the book appeared I got a call from somebody who claimed to represent The Marilyn Society or somesuch. They wanted to know if I planned to do right by her in my novel. Very strange fanboy stuff.
When the book appeared the trades were all over the place: PW gave it a mixed review, Booklist (this is from memory) liked it very much, Library Journal trashed it and the distributor (the big one back then) gave it a full page rave review. I also got solid reviews in the mystery magazines and a couple of the entertainment mags as well. Kirkus gave me a very enthusiastic thumbs up: "Mystery veteran Gorman sprays hot lead from the hip in this punchy historical thriller about a wild race to claim the secret recordings of the Blondest Hollywood Babylonia."
And then it was forgotten, not just by readers but by me, too.
About a year ago reviews began appearing on various blogs. "The worst book I could never stop reading" said (I think) the St. Louis paper. Some Marilyn-orientd site noted: "You'll feel ashamed for reading it but you won't be able to put it down." And my favorite from a source I can't find again: "Splashy, trashy and fun!" I meant for it to be Robbins-over-the-top and apparently I succeeded.
I got the idea for putting these quotes here from Norman Mailer. When his novel The Deer Park (which I've always considered his Raymond Chandler novel and admire very much) was totally trashed by critics, Mailer bought a full page ad in the Village Voice and printed quotes from all his terrible reviews. My favorite was Time's: "The biggest garbage heap of the year."
I think you'll have a good time with it. Many of the newspaper review cited my take on Marilyn as compassionate and moving even though she never appears on stage. And many of the same reviewers thought that my sketches of JFK, RFK and especially old Joe Kennedy were well done.
It's worth 99 cents if I do have to say so myself.