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.”
A comprehensive study of the culture surrounding sleep.
Patricia Morrisroe sets out to cure her insomnia with help from America’s booming sleep industry, which peddles everything from Ambien to dental appliances. What she discovers along the way will aid anyone who worries they aren’t getting enough rest.
[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.
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!
Bursting with fresh revelations, Wide Awake is a mesmerizing exegesis on sleep and its discontents, written with wit, charm, and, above all, wisdom born of Morrisroe’s triumphant struggle with insomnia.
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.
A weird, wonderful journey in search of a good night’s sleep.
[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.
As someone who cherishes sleep almost as much as my kids, I found Wide Awake a fascinating romp through all aspects of insomnia. Stumbling onto this underground nation of sleep deprived people was like discovering a whole new sector of the population. I never quite understood the magnitude or the desperation until I read Morrisroe’s personal, humorous, and well-researched memoir about the one thing we can never seem to get enough of.
Cheerfully anecdotal… a journalistic stunt-a-thon full of deadpan funny adventures… a fine firsthand look at insomniac eccentricities.
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.
Morrisroe is well-versed in the scientific background of sleep. She intelligently breaks down jargon-filled research articles found in academic journals to educate readers about various sleep disorders and treatments.
An engrossing saga… The context she creates for him is extensive, and she documents it dazzlingly. The result is an illuminating portrait taken from more angles than Mapplethorpe ever used in his photography.
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.
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.
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.
Your essential bedtime story… nicely done.
In this riveting biography Morrisroe comes a lot closer to the real man and his times than have all the pious tracts and memoirs… Anyone who was there will find the book perhaps the truest picture to date of an important corner of the New York art and social world during the past twenty years… The book is a valuable corrective, and a major study of the darkly shaded life of an American artist.
Provocative and witty.
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.