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Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust Without Reason

Overview

Coming of age on Park Avenue in the 1950s, Anne Roiphe had an adolescence entrenched in privilege, petticoats, and social rules. Young women at the time were expected to give up personal freedom for devotion to home and children. Instead, Roiphe chose Beckett, Proust, Sartre, and Mann as her heroes, and became one of the girls draped across the sofa at parties with George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, and William Styron, sometimes with her young child in tow. For a time she was satisfied to play the muse, but at the ...

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Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust without Reason

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Overview

Coming of age on Park Avenue in the 1950s, Anne Roiphe had an adolescence entrenched in privilege, petticoats, and social rules. Young women at the time were expected to give up personal freedom for devotion to home and children. Instead, Roiphe chose Beckett, Proust, Sartre, and Mann as her heroes, and became one of the girls draped across the sofa at parties with George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, and William Styron, sometimes with her young child in tow. For a time she was satisfied to play the muse, but at the age of twenty-seven, divorced and finally freed of the notion that any sacrifice was worth making for art, she began to write. Here, in her clear-sighted, perceptive, and unabashed memoir, Roiphe shares with astonishing honesty the tumultuous adventure of self-discovery that finally led to her redemption.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

 “Think of this enthralling memoir as the perfect companion to Patti Smith’s Just Kids. . . . A love letter to New York City. . . . A romantic story of self-discovery—and a cautionary tale about the dangers of artistic ambition.” —More Magazine 

“Uniquely honest, emotionally complex and utterly readable.” —Salon

 “Jaw-dropping. . . . What especially sets Art and Madness apart from its autobiographical sorority sisters is its mercilessness. . . . Searing.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR)
 
“Wry. . . . Sharply perceptive. . . . Witty.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Enthralling, candid. . . . Her story shares elements with Patti Smith’s Just Kids, another coming-of-age story that conjures heady days among fiercely ambitious, self-destructive men. . . . Beautifully evokes a dazzling New York era.” —Newsday
 
“Oh, what a voice!. . . . Roiphe’s seamless transitions between the two periods in her life play a useful role in explaining her development as a writer. . . . A wise exploration of how she found her voice.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Anne Roiphe’s unsparing memoir vividly recaptures a time when writing was everything, a lost world devoted to the hot pursuit of art, of fame.”—Morris Dickstein, author of Dancing in the Dark and Gates of Eden
 
“Anne Roiphe candidly recounts her youthful escapades on New York’s literary scene in the 50s and 60s.” —Vanity Fair
 
“What an extraordinary memoir Anne Roiphe’s book is, so compelling and immediate. . . . Art and Madness is an extraordinary evocation of its era. But it’s an even more wonderful portrait of an artist growing her wings inside the chrysalis of that time until at last she bursts forth in glory.” —Amanda Vaill, author of Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story
 
“Riveting. . . . Written in a tone of Didion-like detachment but saffroned with her distinctive, pungent regrets and her curious humility. . . . Brave, revealing recollections.” —The Daily Beast
 
“A nearly perfect narration of a conscience torn, and of a young woman’s yearning for a life of significance. . . . Her precise, spare, and subtle rendering of her coming of age lends her book the feel of a fable—a fable written in commiseration with, but mostly as a warning for, those who have been similarly afflicted.” —The Second Pass
 
Art and Madness riveted me. It depicted the fifties turning sixties as I too experienced them. . . . This is a valuable inner history of those times.” —Erica Jong, author of Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life

Library Journal
In this bold book, Roiphe (Epilogue: A Memoir), a veteran novelist and memoirist, focuses on her years among the literary icons of the late 1950s and 1960s. Growing up in a wealthy, dysfunctional Jewish family in New York, she looked to artists and writers as her salvation. At 23, she married Jack Richardson, a promising playwright. Putting her own writing ambitions on hold, she typed his manuscripts and patiently tolerated his promiscuity and drunkenness. She stayed with Jack for eight years, all the time worrying what kind of life she was giving her daughter. In addition to providing amusing accounts of George Plimpton's boozy parties, where she often spent her evenings with important writers of the era, from Norman Mailer and Doc Haines to William Styron, Roiphe analyzes the effect of alcohol and crazy lifestyles on the writers as well as their wives, who were supposed to serve as patient muses, her colorful, staccato prose capturing the restless energy of the time. VERDICT This book will appeal to Roiphe's fans, feminists, and memoir lovers.—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Kirkus Reviews

A crafty, veteran novelist and memoirist (Epilogue, 2008, etc.) recalls her coming-of-age as a sexy smarty-pants.

Roiphe effectively evokes the atmosphere in which a clever, pretty Jewish girl from Park Avenue might aspire to have it all, particularly if she was ready to provide whatever a needy poet, painter or playwright yearned for at the moment. Art, literature, rebellion and angst—that was life. Fresh from the sisterhood of Smith College, the author landed directly in the hot intellectual dormitory that was midcentury New York City. It was a world in which Arthur Kopit and Jack Gelber heatedly discussed Samuel Beckett and Jean Genét, where Terry Southern debated, where George Plimpton held court. Mailer and Styron were there, too. (The author notes that some names are changed in the interest of privacy). The nubile author's postgraduate education in the arts featured encounters, frequently in bed, with such lubricious artistic teachers. They were famous and unknown, wealthy and poor, struggling aspirants and swindling liars, gay, straight, bisexual, soaked in alcohol and mostly oversexed. Roiphe discusses the awkward loss of her virginity and subsequent marriage to a feckless, failed poet and playwright. She eventually had a child and remarried. In the mob of self-centered tricksters, all she wanted was to be a writer, and she succeeded quite pleasingly. The foreword is provided by journalist daughter Katie, who writes that "this book is the record of an idea as it moves through a life: the idea is the supreme and consuming importance of art."

A sharp, graphic potrayal of bohemian times that thoughtfully reveals the young woman the author once was.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307473967
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 702,599
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Roiphe's eighteen books include the memoir Fruitful, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the novel Up the Sandbox, a national bestseller. She has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Vogue, Elle, Redbook, and Parents, and is a contributing editor to the Jerusalem Report. She lives in New York City.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Once I started I couldn't stop! Wonderful representation of the

    Once I started I couldn't stop! Wonderful representation of the changing times from the perspective of a talented and smart woman.

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