The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe
By Andrew O'Hagan
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151013722, 288pp.)
Publication Date: December 2010
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Meet Maf: The hilariously opinionated, well-read, politically scrappy, and complex canine companion to Marilyn Monroe.
In November 1960, Frank Sinatra gave Marilyn Monroe a dog. His name was Mafia Honey, or Maf for short. Born in the household of Vanessa Bell, brought to the United States by Natalie Wood’s mother, and given as a Christmas present to Marilyn the winter after she separated from Arthur Miller, Maf was with Marilyn for the last two years of her life, first in New York and then in Los Angeles, and he had as much instinct for celebrity and psychoanalysis as he did for Liver Treat with a side order of National Biscuits. Marylin took him to meet President Kennedy and to Hollywood restaurants, to department stores, to interviews, and to Mexico for her divorce. Through Maf's eyes, we see an altogether original and wonderfully clever portrait of the woman behind the icon—and the dog behind the woman.
ANDREW O'HAGAN was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His previous novels have been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award.
"O’Hagan’s seductively witty novel, written from the down-low but philosophically lofty vantage point of Mafia Honey, the fluffy white Maltese that was Frank Sinatra’s gift to his gentle, needy friend Marilyn. Maf, a British import, is fiercely political (a Trotskyite), erudite and snootily stylish (caring about home décor, he tells us, is "part of my pedigree"). He skewers the Hollywood elite while coming to adore his "fated companion" whose tenuous dreams he can read distinctly even as they’re turning to dust."
-Parade "Maf’s insights into the vulnerable star’s psyche will make your heart stop—as will O’Hagan’s writing, which is as clear and lovely as the Blonde Bombshell’s seductive laugh."
- Marie Claire
"Maf, equal parts erudite (a sworn Trotskyite, well-versed in philosophy and psychology), and canine (he chases rats), tells Monroe’s story from the ground up."
-Interview "With a nod to Virginia Woolf’s biography of Flush, cheeky Andrew O’Hagan channels The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of his Friend Marilyn Monroe."
-Vanity Fair "Andrew O'Hagan's novel perfectly captures the legendary actress. There are numerous scenes between famous people, some of whom I have known, and O’Hagan makes the dialogue sound absolutely authentic... There is a small but impressive tradition of canine narrators, but I can’t imagine there was ever a dog as erudite and well spoken as dear old Mafia Honey. Enthralling."
-Peter Bogdanovich, Daily Telegraph "Andrew O'Hagan's new novel The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog is a miracle and will become a classic. I loved, loved it. If only Marilyn Monroe were alive to read it."
- Edna O'Brien "It's brilliant, the novel, a joy to read. Moving, and very funny - and sad. Maf is wonderful. And so is Marilyn. That 'scene' with her analyst is extraordinary; I was chewing my foot reading it….The whole novel is great and I'm proud to know the man who wrote it."
- Roddy Doyle "This is one of those rare books, written with such sureness of pace and lightness of touch that you find you have read a hundred pages without looking up. It is filled with sly jokes, funny wisdom, and deep feeling for character and scene. But more than anything, it is a book utterly alert to the reader's pleasure; and that pleasure, so sheer and total, is what makes this book so special."
- Colm Tóibín ‘A virtuoso act of ventriloquism ... [Monroe's] pet offers a startling insight into Hollywood, psychotherapy, politics and literary in-fighting, as well as a private portrait of one of the world's most famous and troubled women ... The terrible pathos of the human and canine condition is never far from the glittering surface of this marvellously imaginative, clever, entertaining and profoundly melancholy novel.’
- Sunday Telegraph (UK) ‘Refreshingly, O'Hagan doesn't present Marilyn as a cautionary tale of an object of pity. He understands that she spent her life trying to earn respect, and clearly intends this book as a tribute.’
- The Guardian | Observer Magazine (UK) "Many an esteemed novelist has tried and failed to capture the charisma of Marilyn Monroe. Drawing on actual events, O’Hagan avoids the pitfalls of his predecessors by treating the actress like a human being. ...a star-studded biography of humanity and dogs, their many beautiful bonds, and the tragic distance that remains between them.... O’Hagan’s incredible gift for dialog will give you giggles and goose bumps. Forever and always recommended. "
- Library Journal, starred review A "witty novel... This familiar slice of Americana gets a much-needed shaking up from an erudite pooch."
- Publishers Weekly, pick of the week "O’Hagan gives us a sharp picture of American cultural life in the early 1960s... An unusual, quirky and fun read."
- Kirkus, starred review "O’Hagan ornaments his wry humor with sparkling gems of prose...an enjoyable, thoughtful diversion..."
-Booklist ‘O'Hagan might, on the strength of this [novel], be the person to break the Booker's fear of funny.’
- Scotland on Sunday (UK) ‘[One of} the best novels I have read this year ... [a] crowded and deleriously wonderful comedy of ideas ... O'Hagan has stupendous fluency and sanity, together with a slightly surreal reliance on autobiography.’
- New Statesman (UK) ‘Maf becomes a wry observer, and the novel a fascinating and frequently funny commentary on politics, celebrity (the descriptions of Sinatra are show-stealing) and racism ... The writing is undeniably clever and the research immaculate.’