Review of The Masque of Marilyn in the Washington Independent Review of Books

Grave Cavalieri offered this insightful review of The Masque of Marilyn in the latest Washington Independent Review of Books:

“Who doesn’t care about Marilyn Monroe; and how many Marilyn’s are there? The answer is as many as there are writers invoking her. Hittinger is known for his ability to combine myth, pop culture and philosophy — and these come nicely together in this latest book. He uses a wide-angle lens. His Marilyn is once presented as an 80-year-old taking a sitz bath; and there’s a fabulous experimental poem, “Marilyn Monroe and Marianne Moore Monitor the Periodic Table of Monikers.” Elsewhere she cooks — preparing a “stuffing recipe.” “Em Dash” is a poem where the epigraph reads Marilyn rehearses a scene from Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie to the rodents of Central Park, 1955. You say whaat? I say read it. This poet does not need narrative to tell story. He comes at situation by way of tone, pointillism, and emotion. His individual strength is that he can make each poem a showstopper like the icon herself. Hittinger raises questions instead of making pronouncements — and as idiosyncratic as fame is, he gets that; and uses it as his template, always shape-shifting what Marilyn appears to be, seen through a poet’s Kaleidoscope. She becomes spontaneously a result of perception. This is done by using inventive measures on the page; then at times approaching Monroe from others’ eyes (Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, etc.), Marilyn Monroe is the subject here, but the book’s author is the star because of his epitomized poetics.”