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April 04, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE MISSING PERSON by Doris Grumbach (W. W. Norton: $9.95; 252 pp.). Although Marilyn Monroe was the obvious inspiration for Franny Fuller, the main character in "Missing Person," this dark novel is more than another Hollywood roman a clef : Grumbach explores how a woman can become a prisoner of her own beauty and the desire it inspires. The innocent, unsure product of an abusive childhood, Franny is groomed to become a star; when the carefully orchestrated campaign succeeds, she's unable to cope with the expectations and adoration. Searching for the person behind her manufactured image, "She lingers in the umbra between celluloid eternity and the accident of mortality, caught and hung up like an escaping prisoner on the barbed wire of his enclosure."

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