Art and Madness

Roiphe, Anne. Art and Madness: a Memoir of Lust Without Reason. New York: Doubleday, 2011.

From the start I struggled to find the purpose of this snapshot-in-time memoir. In the beginning there is a brief mention of Roiphe at age 11 but most of the book is confined to the 50s and 60s; Roiphe’s artistic coming of age. There is a parade of authors mentioned, name drops like Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Salvador Dali and on and on. Despite a yo-yo’ing time line across the decades there is a constant in Roiphe’s dedication to holding her male counterparts up for success. It was an era when use and abuse of women was the norm and Roiphe takes it all in stride. As she says, she was the muse instead of the writer. Throughout Art and Madness Roiphe illustrates a different side of motherhood as she shamelessly bares the truth about toting her daughter all over predawn New York to answer the drunken beck and call of prominent men. But, with destruction comes the need to rebuild. In the end, Roiphe finds a self-proclaimed redemption. The muse becomes a writer in her own right.

Confessional: Art and Madness was something I would pick up and read voraciously for a day or two at a time. Yet, when I put it down weeks would go by before I would pick it back up again. I read it sporadically, compulsively, and yet, not obsessively. I have no idea why because it really was fascinating.



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