Tuesday, June 21, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph - Tuesday Intros: Blonde

Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph - Tuesday Intros, a meme that I like but that I don't often do.  I've been reading long books lately, so not too many opportunities to blog about finished books these days, so I thought I would share the intro to the book currently consuming my reading time.

I'm reading Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates, a fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe.  It's good, it's sad, and not only because we all know the ending.  Interestingly, the novel begins at the end.

There came Death hurtling along the Boulevard in waning sepia light. 
There came Death flying as in a children’s cartoon on a heavy unadorned messenger’s bicycle.
There came Death unerring. Death not to be dissuaded. Death-in-a-hurry. Death furiously peddling. Death carrying a package marked *Special Delivery Handle with Care* in a sturdy wire basket behind his seat.
There came Death expertly threading his graceless bicycle through traffic at the intersection of Wiltshire and La Brea where, because of street repair, two westbound Wiltshire lanes were funnelled into one.

This is a pretty typical quote from the book, which is told from Norma Jeane's perspective.  I'm only 200 pages into this >700 page novel, and she is still 18, but Oates does a good job of maturing the language and the thought processes as the character develops.


  1. I think you know that I loved this book - yes, it's long and it switches from one narrator to the next, and from third person to first person perspective, but I felt that Oates really got inside her character. It's very moving - you're making me want to re-read the book!

    Margaret @ BooksPlease

  2. I am a bit uncomfortable with fictionalized accounts of real people. With that, like any other genre books of this sort can be very worthy.

    I love that introduction. The repetition of the phrase "There came Death" works very well. It seems perfect for this book.

  3. I recently read Circling the Sun, which I liked, but swore I was done with fictionalized biographies forever. Forgot about JCO's Blonde...

  4. This is on my mental list of JCO titles to look for when thrifting. I like the idea and Oates is an interesting writer.

    The only title of hers that I see regularly (and I have read it) is We Were the Mulvaneys and I think that is only because it was an Oprah pick.

    1. I was thinking about adding We Were the Mulvaneys to my TBR list.

  5. Wow at page 200 she's still 18. An interesting or intriguing first paragraph! I look forward to your review ... after 700 pgs.