Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn

Originally published on Pinstripe Alley

Jerome Charyn's Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil makes a fascinating piece of social anthropology, centered on the exploration of DiMaggio's relationship with Marilyn Monroe, how it captured national attention, and how it has resonance as a cultural touchstone.

Mining the wealth of biographies and documentaries about Joe D. and Marilyn, Charyn's slender volume is clearly a labor of love. He writes of living in the Bronx and following Joe's post-war exploits as a boy.

Charyn is puzzled by DiMaggio: "Why did his intensity and terrifying heat in center field diminish away from the field and leave him with so little sense of purpose?" Charyn writes in the prologue. "Why did [DiMaggio] become so dysfunctional and end his days in a golden ghetto, frightened of his own fame yet needing to guard it with a stubborn, maddening will?"