The Long Vigil
By Jerome Charyn
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300123289, 192pp.)
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $24.00*
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As the New York Yankees' star centerfielder from 1936 to 1951, Joe DiMaggio is enshrined in America's memory as the epitome in sports of grace, dignity, and that ineffable quality called "class." But his career after retirement, starting with his nine-month marriage to Marilyn Monroe, was far less auspicious. Writers like Gay Talese and Richard Ben Cramer have painted the private DiMaggio as cruel or self-centered. Now, Jerome Charyn restores the image of this American icon, looking at DiMaggio's life in a more sympathetic light.
DiMaggio was a man of extremes, superbly talented on the field but privately insecure, passive, and dysfunctional. He never understood that for Monroe, on her own complex and tragic journey, marriage was a career move; he remained passionately committed to her throughout his life. He allowed himself to be turned into a sports memorabilia money machine. In the end, unable to define any role for himself other than "Greatest Living Ballplayer," he became trapped in "a horrible kind of minutia." But where others have seen little that was human behind that minutia, Charyn in" Joe DiMaggio" presents the tragedy of one of American sports' greatest figures.
The Yankee star and ex-boyfriend of Marilyn Monroe "really couldn't function away from baseball. That was his language ... that was his grace," says the author of a new biography of the athlete. The book looks at his life after baseball and his fans' awestruck paeans to his lyrical movement on the field. More at NPR.org
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