The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan

I suppose it’s not very auspicious to start a post telling you that I had very high hopes for this book because it indicates that perhaps my hopes were dashed. I’m afraid to say that they were!

What doesn’t sound appealing about a story told by Marilyn Monroe’s dog, Maf? You may be intrigued; I was too. The story starts in England where Maf the dog is bought by Natalie Wood’s mother who takes him back to California, sells him to Frank Sinatra, who gives him to Marilyn when she is feeling down and depressed over her impending divorce from Arthur Miller. There are some very amusing early scenes featuring Ol’ Blue Eyes and his epic temper, Natalie Wood’s crazy dad and Marilyn’s appearance at a Sammy Davis, Jr show. Maf (short for Mafia Honey) narrates the story with a keen sense of human weakness and a high interest in philosophy. There are many scenes of Maf and his dog friends discussing Plato, Aristotle, and Freud. I have to say I didn’t enjoy these scenes. I much more enjoyed reading Maf’s descriptions of Marilyn’s interactions with her famous friends such as Carson McCullers, Sinatra and George Cukor. I admit I have a plebeian sensibility and usually enjoy celebrity chatter over philosophical ruminations, especially when they are abstract and head-spinning as they are in this novel.

I’m sure I’m probably missing the genius of this book and others will find it more satisfying than I did. I think if I knew more about different philosophers and big thinkers of this time period it would have been more fulfilling. There are a lot of clever “in” jokes that I only got about 10% of the time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am not smart enough for this book!

3 thoughts on “The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan

  1. Didn’t even know that Marilyn Monroe had a dog! I quite like the thought of anecdotes about the screen starts of the fifties, but I don’t think philosophical conversations between dogs would be my cup of tea!


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