Of Women and Their Elegance. Photographs by Milton Greene. New York: Simon and Schuster, 26 November; London: Hodder and Stoughton. Novel, 288 pp., $29.95.
No dedication. In a concluding “Author’s Note,” Mailer calls the book “an imaginary memoir.” Discarded title: Of Women and Their Elegance: by Marilyn Monroe as Told to Norman Mailer. Of the 124 photographs, 34 are of Marilyn Monroe and illustrate, in part, Mailer’s text. The remaining photographs are of other show business and/or fashion figures, including Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, Amy Greene, Suzy Parker, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly and many others. The individuals or scenes in 23 of the photographs are unidentified.
The softcover edition (New York: Tom Doherty; distributed by Pinnacle, November 1981) contains 93 of these photographs; most of them are poorly reproduced. In both editions, a few photographs are misidentified or given incorrect page numbers on the “Identifications” page. For example, the second photograph of Tedi Thurman is not on 17, as listed in the first edition, but on 18-19. Mailer drew heavily on Of Women and Their Elegance for his later play “Strawhead” (86.25). Rpt: 80.12, 80.14 (partial). See 73.30, 80.17–80.19, 82.9, 86.22.
Mailer: “I wanted the reader to be jarred into a comprehension of the size and spectrum of a movie star’s soul. There is more to a movie star than we think, not less. I wanted to deepen the legend of Marilyn Monroe, not sweeten it” (80.14).