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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A comprehensive study of the culture surrounding 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.
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.
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.
Provocative and witty.
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.