Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe

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The front cover image presents – in extreme close-up and suffused in glitter – all the facial attributes of a screen goddess: the bedroom eyes, red lips, and of course her beauty mark (cut into the dustjacket.) And yet, she’s both familiar and strangely not herself: a dazzling mask. Only when the jacket unfolds and the iconic image is revealed in full can we be certain this is Marilyn Monroe, from the same photo shoot that inspired Andy Warhol’s first silkscreens. Beneath this vivid mask, a glossy black hardcover is embossed with a short verse in white font: “No one knows/how it feels/inside my troubled mind/No one wants to.” Continue reading

2020: A Year in Film

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This photo was taken in Brighton just two winters ago, but it already feels like a distant memory. Founded in 1910, the Duke of York’s is the oldest operating cinema in Britain, and I’ve been a customer, on and off, for the last quarter-century. The last film I saw there, back in February, was (ironically) Parasite. After four months in lockdown the Duke’s reopened in July, but by October its parent company Cineworld had announced that all theatres would close indefinitely. Now this grand old building is boarded up, a sorry sight – and it’s just one of many venues facing an uncertain future. I’ve really missed the cinema, though streaming has offered an alternative of sorts. As an old friend told me recently, we all need a little glamour in our lives – and so I hope 2021 is kinder to the arts than this year has been. Continue reading

Merry Christmas to All My Readers!

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Wishing you all happiness this Christmas, whether you’re at home with family or separated from loved ones in this winter like no other. This seasonal card, featuring the work of Walter Crane, was produced by the Radical Tea Towel Company.

Over the last few days I’ve shared my favourite booksmusic and films of 2020, . And at my sister blog, The Marilyn Report, I’ve compiled some of this year’s top Monroe stories (yes, she’s still making headlines …)

And finally, here’s a mellow version of ‘Blue Christmas’ from Sharon Van Etten – and a toast, from me to all of you. Cheers!

2020: A Year In Books

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The turmoil of 2020 hasn’t affected my reading much, although I miss going to the library and have turned instead to Kindle. Among the 100+ books I’ve read this year, I’ve enjoyed discoveries old and new, plus the latest output from my favourite contemporary authors. However, some of my greatest pleasures lay in neglected midcentury classics which finally got their due. Continue reading

2020: A Year in Music

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For music lovers, this was the year the stage went dark, and we sought comfort in our record collections. Then in April 2020, with the world in lockdown, Fiona Apple surprised us with Fetch the Bolt Cutters, her first album in eight years and perhaps, the wake-up call we all needed. Continue reading