Art and Madness by Anne Roiphe
A Memoir of Lust Without Reason

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Synopsis

Luminous and intensely personal, Art and Madness recounts the lost years of Anne Roiphe’s twenties, when the soon-to-be-critically-acclaimed author put her dreams of becoming a writer on hold to devote herself to the magnetic but coercive male artists of the period.
 
Coming of age in the 1950s, Roiphe, the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants, grew up on Park Avenue and had an adolescence defined by privilege, petticoats, and social rules. At Smith College her classmates wore fraternity pins on their cashmere sweaters and knit argyle socks for their boyfriends during lectures. Young women were expected to give up personal freedom for devotion to home and children. Instead, Roiphe chose Beckett, Proust, Sartre, and Mann as her heroes and sought out the chaos of New York’s White Horse Tavern and West End Bar.
 
She was unmoored and uncertain, “waiting for a wisp of truth, a feather’s brush of beauty, a moment of insight.” Salvation came in the form of a brilliant playwright whom she married and worked to support, even after he left her alone on their honeymoon and later pawned her family silver, china, and pearls. Her near-religious belief in the power of art induced her to overlook his infidelity and alcoholism, and to dutifully type his manuscripts in place of writing her own.
 
During an era that idolized its male writers, she became, sometimes with her young child in tow, one of the girls draped across the sofa at parties with George Plimpton, Terry Southern, Doc Humes, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, and William Styron. In the Hamptons she socialized with Larry Rivers, Jack Gelber and other painters and sculptors. “Moderation for most of us is a most unnatural condition . . . . I preferred to burn out like a brilliant firecracker.” But while she was playing the muse reality beckoned, forcing her to confront the notion that any sacrifice was worth making for art.
 
Art and Madness recounts the fascinating evolution of a time when art and alcohol and rebellion caused collateral damage and sometimes produced extraordinary work. In clear-sighted, perceptive, and unabashed prose, Roiphe shares with astonishing honesty the tumultuous adventure of self-discovery that finally led to her redemption.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Anne Roiphe

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ANNE ROIPHE'S eighteen books include the memoir Fruitful, a finalist for the National Book Award, and the novel Up the Sandbox, a national bestseller. She has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Vogue, Elle, Redbook, Parents, and the Guardian. She lives in New York City.
 
Published March 15, 2011 by Anchor. 242 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Art and Madness

The New York Times

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In Anne Roiphe’s new memoir, she explores her compulsion as a young woman in the 1950s to be a muse to male writers.

Mar 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

The New York Times

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The novelist Anne Roiphe examines her youthful compulsion to be a muse to “a man of great talent.”

Mar 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

Publishers Weekly

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Roiphe's sharp, dazzling memoir of her literary youth in late 1950s and early 1960s New York City contains a dark story of untenable marriages, alcoholism, and outrageous sexism. Raised on Park Avenue

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

NPR

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In Anne Roiphe's memoir of hard drinking and hard loving in the 1950s, the writer recalls the "The bottomless tumblers; the never-ashed cigarettes" of her youth. But, as Alice Gregory writes, it wasn't all romance and revelry,

Mar 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

NPR

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In Art and Madness, her memoir of the literary 1950s, writer Anne Roiphe describes going into labor by herself in a snowdrift, unable to wake her sleeping playwright husband. Over the years, she learns her own power, charting her course through feminism and a life in art.

Mar 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

Examiner

Which is exactly what it should do because Art and Madness is the story of a woman on the edge of a changing world who plays her expected role with fervor and delight until that world’s brittle cracks begin to etch themselves into her.

Sep 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

New York Journal of Books

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Roiphe treats celebrity encounters in Art and Madness.

Mar 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

The Daily Beast

Liesl Schillinger is a New York-based writer and literary critic whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York magazine, The Washington Post, the New Republic, The London Independent on Sunday, and other publications here and abroad.

Mar 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Art and Madness : A Memoir of...

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