In November 1960, Frank Sinatra gave Marilyn Monroe a dog. His name was Mafia Honey, or Maf for short. He had an instinct for celebrity. For politics. For psychoanalysis. For literature. For interior decoration. For Liver Treat with a side order of National Biscuits.
Born in the household of Vanessa Bell, brought to the United States by Natalie Woods mother, given as a Christmas present to Marilyn the winter after she separated from Arthur Miller, Maf offers a keen insight into the world of Hollywoods greatest star. Not to mention a hilarious peek into the brain of an opinionated, well-read, politically scrappy, complex canine hero.
Maf was with Marilyn for the last two years of her life, first in New York, where she mixed with everyone who was anyonethe art dealer Leo Castelli, Lee Strasberg and the Actors Studio crowd, Upper West Side émigrésthen back to Los Angeles. She took him to meet President Kennedy and to Hollywood restaurants, department stores, and interviews. To Mexico, for her divorce. With style, brilliance, and panache, Andrew OHagan has drawn an altogether original portrait of the woman behind the icon, and the dog behind the woman.
My story really begins at Charleston, a perfect haunt
of light and invention that stands in the English
countryside. It was warm that summer and the mornings
went far into the afternoon, when the best of the garden
would come into the house, the flowers arranged in pots and
given new life by Vanessa in her fertile hours. She was always
there with her oils and her eyes, the light falling through the
glass ceiling to inflame the possibility of something new.She
had good days and bad days. On good days she set out her
brushes and knew the time was right for work when all her
memories became like an aspect of sleep.
It was June 1960. The gardener had just brought a tray of foxgloves into the kitchen, the flowers pert but deafened after a week or two of bees. I was sitting in a basket next to the oven when a ladybird crawled over the table. ‘He’s got the knock, innee?’ said the insect, climbing over a breadcrumb.
‘He’s just tired...
Ultimately, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe is an entertaining read, not least for its satisfying glimpses behind the curtain of Hollywood, but it will not be to everyone's taste. This is not a cute story told from a trusty dog's perspective, but a melancholy social commentary about a nation on the cusp of change. It is funny, sad, and earthy, and Maf the Dog, with his remarkable turns of phrase and impassioned beliefs, is a memorable storyteller.
(Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Full Review (1184 words).
The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his friend Marilyn Monroe creates a believable character in Maf, a character based on Marilyn Monroe's dog. Fiction about or including dogs has a popular and long history. Wikipedia offers an expansive page listing the dogs in literature including Odysseus's faithful companion Argos, and Crab "the sourest natured dog that lives" from Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona. Clearly, fictional dogs are abundant, from children's literature to adult novels; yet Maf the Dog is rare in being one of the few books to depict a real-life dog in fiction. Here are two others:
In Greyfriar's Bobby (1912), Eleanor Atkinson tells the story of Bobby, a devoted Skye Terrier who won the attention of ...
If you liked The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, try these:
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A moving depiction of the transformative power of first love, Hamann's first novel follows Eveline Auerbach from her high school years in East Hampton, New York, in the 1970s through her early adulthood in the moneyed, high-pressured Manhattan of the 1980s.
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