Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Book of the Week and Bibliography - Andrew O'Hagan, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his friend Marilyn Monroe

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe is the fourth novel from Andrew O’Hagan, and is the 'memoir' of the Maltese terrier given for Christmas 1960 by Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe. In terms of theme and comedic intent, there are some similarities to Me Cheetah, the surprise of last year’s Booker Longlist. However, Maf the Dog is a more intellectual creature than Cheetah, and his memoir provides a much more ambitious tour of twentieth century culture. This is a simultaneous hardback/paperback release, with the former relatively uncommon and the print run limited. O’Hagan has a strong record in literary prizes, and is likely to be a long term stalwart of English literary fiction. Reviews of his current novel have been very mixed – some excellent, and some not liking it at all. However, on balance likely to be worth picking up.

Andrew O'Hagan was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1968 and read English at the University of Strathclyde. He is a contributing editor to the London Review of Books and Granta magazine. In his acclaimed first book, The Missing (1995), O'Hagan wrote about his own childhood and told the stories of parents whose children had disappeared. The book was shortlisted for the Esquire Award, the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award, and the McVities Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year award. Our Fathers (1999), his first novel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. The book tells the story of young Scot Jamie Bawn and a visit to his dying grandfather that leads him to uncover the truth about his family's past. Personality (2003), is about a 13-year-old girl with a beautiful singing voice growing up above a chip shop on the Scottish island of Bute and making ready to realise her family's dream of fame. It won the 2003 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction).

“In November 1960, Frank Sinatra gave Marilyn Monroe a dog. His name was Maf. He had an instinct for the twentieth century. For politics. For psychoanalysis. For literature. For interior decoration. This is his story. Maf the dog was with Marilyn for the last two years of her life. Not only a picaresque hero himself, he was also a scholar of the adventuring rogue in literature and art, witnessing the rise of America's new liberalism, civil rights, the space race, the New York critics, and was Marilyn Monroe's constant companion. The story of Maf the dog is a hilarious and highly original peek into the life of a complex canine hero - he was very much a real historical figure, with his license and photographs sold at auction along with Marilyn's other person affects. Through the eyes of Maf we're provided with an insight into the life of Monroe herself, and a fascinating take on one of the most extraordinary periods of the twentieth century.”

Bibliography and current values:

The Missing Picador, 1995 - £10 in dustwrapper.

Our Fathers Faber and Faber, 1999 - £10 in dustwrapper

The End of British Farming Profile Books, 2001 - £15 as a paperback

The Weekenders: Travels in the Heart of Africa (contributor) Ebury Press, 2001 - £10 as paperback

Personality Faber and Faber, 2003 - £10-15 in dustwrapper

The Weekenders: Adventures in Calcutta (editor) Ebury Press, 2004 - £10 as paperback, though less common than the earlier Weekenders title

Be Near Me Faber and Faber, 2006 - £10 in dustwrapper

A Night Out with Robert Burns (editor) Canongate, 2008 – £10 -20 in dustwrapper, though currently uncommon

The Atlantic Ocean Faber and Faber, 2008 – £10 -15, though less common than O’Hagan’s earlier books

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe Faber and Faber 2010 – new at cost

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