Tuesday, October 19, 2010
THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF MAF THE DOG AND OF HIS FRIEND MARILYN MONROE by Andrew O'Hagan (2010) McClelland & Stewart
I will read anything that Andrew O'Hagan writes, from a short story in GRANTA to a book review in the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS to one of his gorgeous literary novels like PERSONALITY or BE NEAR ME.
THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF MAF THE DOG AND OF HIS FRIEND MARILYN MONROE will transport you headlong into the 60s: the nascent Camelot presidency of JFK; the brat pack tomfoolery of Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin; the Hollywood star system that transformed Natalie Wood and Marilyn Monroe into superluminaries.
Maf is the canine companion, a gift to Marilyn from Sinatra, who journeys everywhere with Marilyn in the final two years of her life. He dines at the best restaurants in NYC and LA, visits film sets, travels to Mexico to finalize Marilyn's divorce from Arthur Miller, witnesses acting classes with the Strassbergs and philosophizes all the while about high art, bedroom comedy, cats who mimic poet William Carlos Williams and the heady politics of change.
Written in the tradition of picaresque novels of the 18th century and with homage to other pets that have gone before Maf (Virginia Woolf's Mitz "who behaved as if the world were a question"; Maud Gonne's Chaperone, "a grey marmoset filled with Celtic lore and Hellinc rhymes [about] the impotence of human passion;" Greyfriars Bobby, "a kind of saint, really. And sainthood is the kind of fame you want;" Laika, "a brave Russian soul...[whose] memoirs would constitute a masterpiece to rival David Copperfield."), THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF MAF THE DOG AND OF HIS FRIEND MARILYN MONROE is a marvelous romp that will have you yearning for more stories of such wit, rife with literary and popular culture allusion.
Mafia Honey (Monroe's full name for her beloved Maltese) may well be my new best friend.
Hollywood has hopped on the Andrew O'Hagan bandwagon and will be producing Maf's story for the big screen, featuring George Clooney as Sinatra and Angelina Jolie as Monroe. It should be a lark.