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’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.
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.
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 the closest thing to an amusing chat on sleep (with someone who listens, understands, and cares for you) that I have ever found.
Cheerfully anecdotal… a journalistic stunt-a-thon full of deadpan funny adventures… a fine firsthand look at insomniac eccentricities.
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!
The book is full of… funny and keenly observed details. Blessed be any woman willing to tell the truth about heels.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A weird, wonderful journey in search of a good night’s sleep.