Charyn divides Joe DiMaggio's life into three parts; the short period before baseball, the baseball career, and the long period after Marilyn Monroe's death. The son of a fisherman dropped out of high school after one year to play ball. During his years with the Yankees, he prowled center field. With his bat and his fielding, he became "The greatest living player," the Yankee Clipper who ruled baseball for thirteen years. He left the sport for a short time during WWII, serving reluctantly. But, he lost his first wife and son to baseball and his silence, his moodiness. When another beautiful blonde, Marilyn Monroe, set her sights on DiMaggio, he didn't stand a chance. Marilyn needed Joe DiMaggio, the prince who could raise her from a starlet who posed nude for pinups, and was in trouble with her studio. She used him while claiming to love another man, playwright Arthur Miller. But, DiMaggio loved her as much as he was capable of loving anyone. She dumped him after a year, but "It's DiMaggio who will get her out of the madhouse, DiMaggio who will bury her, who will clean up the mess, who will have roses sent to her crypt religiously for twenty years."
There's so much more to Charyn's book about Joe DiMaggio's devotion to baseball, and his image that lived for so many that saw or heard his exploits on the field. It was his entire life, except for his love for Marilyn Monroe. When she died after his retirement, he really had nothing left. Although he was a spokesman for years, Charyn shows us that the man was just a shadow, holding a vigil for his lost life and his lost love. Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil is about the tragedy of a man's life, a long period of nothingness. As I said, this is one of the saddest true stories I've read.
Jerome Charyn's website is www.jeromecharyn.com
Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn. Yale University Press. ©2011. ISBN 9780300123289 (hardcover), 192p.
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Jerome Charyn's Bio:
Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”
New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”
Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.
Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.