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.”
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.
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.
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!
A weird, wonderful journey in search of a good night’s sleep.
An utterly admirable biography… This is a courageous book; Morrisroe went to the bottom of the box and did not flinch at the things she found there… The clarity and honesty of Morrisroe’s portrait are worthy of its subject.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A comprehensive study of the culture surrounding 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.
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.
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.
Patricia Morrisroe writes with the sharpness of a stiletto and the wit of a Louboutin.
[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.
Morrisroe hits the mark … A funny, warm and insightful trek through one woman’s life and American popular culture—a successful blend of form and function.
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.
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.
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.