In 1988, the noted photographer Robert Mapplethorpe selected her to write his biography. A year later, several months after he died of AIDS, the Corcoran Gallery of Art cancelled the photographer’s “The Perfect Moment” exhibit. This spurred a heated nationwide debate about pornography as art and called into question the extent to which Congress and the NEA should be funding that art. When Mapplethorpe: A Biography was published in 1995, the art critic Arthur C. Danto, in The Nation, called it “utterly admirable… The clarity and honesty of Morrisroe’s portrait are worthy of its’ subject.” The Washington Post declared the book as “mesmerizing as Mapplethorpe’s stare in his self-portraits.”
In 2010, Patricia wrote Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia, which blended science, culture and personal insight to tell the story of why she – and 40 million other Americans – can’t sleep at night. Janet Maslin in the New York Times praised her “deadpan funny” sense of humor, describing the book as a “fine firsthand look at insomniac eccentricities.”
Morrisroe has livened up what could have been a wearisomely fact-heavy read by venturing into the field and embracing the spirit of adventure… As with Fast-Food Nation, the book neatly points up the way technology has altered our lives and our health. But far from being earnest, Morrisroe’s romp through the sleep industry is often very funny and full of fascinating examples.
9 ½ Narrow is an utterly charming — I might say fleet-footed — memoir about entering life with big (but narrow!) feet and bigger dreams. Patricia Morrisroe depicts the agonies of growing up as a born sophisticate in a Catholic family and a small town with an enviable lightness of touch — and a comic’s sense of timing. It is hard to read this book without laughing — or occasionally grimacing — in recognition at the truth of an observation or situation, leaving you wondering how someone else has figured out exactly how you feel about everything from getting a bad perm to Bergdorf’s shoe department.
[The author] has succeeded in re-creating the photographer’s world of light and dark… Morrisroe’s [book] is as mesmerizing as Mapplethorpe’s stare in his self-portraits.
The best memoirs take us inside the person’s past and this is what Morrisroe has succeeded in doing brilliantly… you will be tossing and turning with amusement.
The book is full of… funny and keenly observed details. Blessed be any woman willing to tell the truth about heels.
I love shoes and this delightful memoir shines a light on all things shoe, as well as all things personal. Patricia Morrisroe’s life unfolds through her wedges, ruby shoes, t-strap heels, and Manolo slingbacks. As I read it, all my memories came back in a flood, and yours will too.
Your essential bedtime story… nicely done.
The book is the closest thing to an amusing chat on sleep (with someone who listens, understands, and cares for you) that I have ever found.
Morrisroe’s sparkling writing carries her through. That her journey ends happily, with her discovery of Qigong, means readers will be as encouraged as well as informed, with as much on overcoming insomnia as avoiding snake-oil salesmen.
A weird, wonderful journey in search of a good night’s sleep.
9 ½ Narrow is a 10! A girl becomes a woman and shares her memories, her loves, family, and shoes. You’ll identify with Patricia, laugh with her and at her – page after page. You’ll want to call her up and talk. I don’t know her but I wish I did.
The cool handling of hot material, which gave Mapplethorpe’s work its characteristic edge, also distinguishes Morrisroe’s account of the work and the life… She has created a kind of postmodern portrait of the artist… One of the books strengths is her elegant discussion (and description) of Mapplethorpe’s photographs…What she has done is bring his character, and its context, alive.
Wide Awake manages to be both witty and informative, an absolute must-read for anyone looking to get the bottom of why Americans spend 20 billion a year trying to get a better night’s sleep. Morrisroe’s hard-won conclusion might just change your life.
Patricia Morrisroe’s … love for shoes started with a crush on a little friend’s white Mary Janes. She successfully lobbied for her own pair, only to have her quirky mother—her comic foil throughout this book—offhandedly inform her that she was born with 12 toes. What’s entertaining about her life story and footwear adoration is the irony Morrisroe blends into every scene; her comic timing brings peels of laughter… Romances and a peripatetic career in journalism also spark wry observations.
Chatty and endearing, this episodic memoir flows … Morrisroe recreates many of her shoe lust milestones growing up in the 1960s in Andover, Mass., shopping for white Mary Janes, wedgies, Beatle boots, and ghillies…Straightforward and funny, Morrisroe proves to be a great companion as she navigates shoe stores, high heels, and foot fetishes.
Patricia Morrisroe tosses and turns her way through the landscape of insomnia, taking us along on a guided tour so rich in literary allusion, sleep lore, and uniquely personal insight that I stayed up all night reading it. At once poetic, intimate, and surprisingly informative, Wide Awake is a self-portrait of the insomniac as authora story full of nuance, revelation, and surprise that might just as easily be subtitled, Alice’s Adventures In Slumberland. As for the title itselfI’m proud to share it!
Morrisroe’s compelling work… provides intimate, often painful, details of [Mapplethorpe’s] rigid Catholic upbringing, the sexual obsessions that drove him to the gay S&M scene, and his intense relationship with rock singer Patti Smith and aristocratic lover Sam Wagstaff. The definitive biography.
[By] writing about sleep Morrisroe tells an important story, providing a specific example of a profound social and political question: the relationship between medicine and money.
Provocative and witty.