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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
This ebullient memoir chronicles a woman’s life through the shoes she’s loved…Morrisroe shows how our footwear tells our stories and reveals our character.
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.
A smart, informative and entertaining memoir … She tells it with wit, honesty and a crisp writing style. This is a good book for the sleepless and for those who wish to understand their plight.
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 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.
Your essential bedtime story… nicely done.
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.
The book is full of… funny and keenly observed details. Blessed be any woman willing to tell the truth about heels.
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’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.
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 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.
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.