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Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust Without Reason
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Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust Without Reason

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
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 a
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Nan A. Talese (first published January 1st 2011)
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Mar 18, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was amazing

"It is true what they said about the fifties. You really were supposed to behave.”

I see that most people gave this book 3.6 out of 5. I loved this book; it's one of the best I've read this year, right behind Ozick's “Foreign Bodies”. The language is lush and the emotions ring true. It really touched me in part because it was chronologically a gap between my mom's generation and mine. The 50's seemed so settled but they weren't. Women were chomping at the bit to be themselves but they also
Apr 02, 2011 Paula rated it really liked it
Anne Roiphe's memoir of her teens and 20's is an intimate look into the art/literature world of New York City in the 1950's and 60's. It is in part a story of her first marriage to an emotionally abusive man who aspires but fails to be a published writer. Roiphe talks about her encounters with many writers and artists of the time and describes their Long Island and NYC parties with drugs, alcohol and sexual trysts, including George Plimpton's Friday evening soirees. Those were exciting yet ...more
Susan Kavanagh
Feb 15, 2011 Susan Kavanagh rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, memoir
Anne Roiphe’s memoir reveals glimpses of her life from her teenage years through her late twenties (1958-1966). She is an excellent writer and quickly draws the reader into her experiences in the society of well known writers and artists. After growing up on Park Avenue in a very affluent but dysfunctional family, Roiphe rejects the buttoned down style of the Mad Men’s fifties and allies herself with the arts. She leaves Smith (too conventional) to attend Sarah Lawrence and spends her nights at ...more
lilly bear ♡
Feb 11, 2012 lilly bear ♡ rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-haves, first-read
Roiphe offers up a poignantly written and engaging journey of self-discovery. No matter how influential and successful a person might be, it takes a lot of courage to offer up their personal life, and all of the doubts and shortcomings that they have experienced along the way, to undergo such open and honest public scrutiny. To display one of her most painful relationships, lay it bear so that we all may see it and wonder - I doubt I'd be able to do the same. I'd imagine that the temptation to ...more
Janice Crespo
Jan 29, 2011 Janice Crespo rated it liked it
The book was a good read, just not one that really held me as much as some. It did give me some insights about what the world was like while I was born and growing up, from another point of view :) While she goes on about the restrictions of being a woman in a man's world of writing, this really went way beyond that world to encompass the entire world.

I guess this wasn't a really happy time for me because reading this brought back some stressful feelings about my youth that I had long forgotten
Sep 27, 2012 Lindsey rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
"Perhaps I was a gold digger and my gold was literary fame." This is an honest and lyrical memoir about Anne Roiphe's attempt to be a muse to the self-obsessed male writers of the late 50s/early 60s. Ignoring her own artistic talent, she puts all her effort into feeding and coddling mentally unstable, drunken men in desperate search of literary prestige. If anything, I think Roiphe is too self-critical in this memoir, but better too much skepticism and self-deprecation than not enough.
Doubleday  Books
Mar 07, 2011 Doubleday Books rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Absolutely gorgeous writing. It's hard to believe that anyone who can write this beautifully could ever feel overshadowed by other writers (male or female), but there you have it. A truly worthwhile read. Imagine if Betty Draper took up with Jack Kerouac and you've kind of got the picture.
Audacia Ray
Jul 27, 2011 Audacia Ray rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2011
Like the Feminine Mystique for the artist and writer set. A well written tale of being a woman (not yet an artist) in a circle of insecure egomaniac male writers and artists.
Jenny O.
Jun 16, 2011 Jenny O. rated it really liked it
"I believed that art, for me the art of the story, the written word, was worth dying for."

We hear about great writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Pound and Eliot, and their names are nearly mystical and eons away from us. But what would it have been like to be near to the pathos and genius, to be moving in the same circles as the novelists, poets, and playwrights that were giants in their day? Men like George Plimpton and Doc Humes, founders of The Paris Review? William Styron and Norman Mail
Feb 17, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
This book focused on the period of the author's life between 1945 & 1965. She definitely lived among the writing world and describes in details the effect this art had on her and the madness that surrounded her. She describes the writers that she knows as being drunks, promiscuous, and always on the verge of insanity (some actually are insane). Does one have to be mad to be an artist or does the art make one mad?

The writing struture is unique. When I think back on my life, I think of events
May 15, 2011 Laurie rated it it was amazing
Anne Roiphe’s (nee Ricardson) memoir covers only a small part of her life: her late teens through her 20s. This was the time in her life before she started writing herself, when she was dedicated to propping up the male authors in her life.

This book may well appall many readers, particularly young women. But this was the 1950s and early 1960s. In the writing world of the time, women were not the artists but the muses and the caretakers. The male authors Roiphe writes of are all irresponsible al
Jul 07, 2011 Edith rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is the latest book by Anne Roiphe- the last one I read was “Epilogue”- in this one she takes us back to the 60’s in NYC where she was a student at Smith and then Sarah Lawrence where she was fixated on writers and literature. She is remarkably candid in showing us who she was in her 20’s. She was a well-read, well-educated, intelligent, gutsy girl ready to sacrifice herself as muse to any brilliant writer who needed her...and she eventually found a doozy of a tortured soul in an aspiring ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
I put off reading this for a while mainly because of the cover art and the title and especially embarrassing subtitle, but of course I shouldn'ta judged it so. (plus, my friend Chris D gave it to me, and she has excellent taste). It's really very good!

I studied art in college, and the impression some of my teachers gave me is that you have to be an alcoholic asshole in order to be a good artist.(they didn't all give me that impression; some of them were very kind, generous people to whom I rema
Feb 09, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica at Book Sake
Art and Madness is an extremely puzzling memoir. It’s almost as if the author wrote this book all in one shot and scribbled down the memories as they came to her. Mind you, I enjoy books with broken chronology, but this particular memoir is very difficult to follow. I also had a tough time sympathizing with the author; she seemed to be the typical self-absorbed, rebellious teenager who didn’t appreciate what she had and longed to live the life of someone much less privileged than herself. What I ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Karla rated it liked it
This short memoir is presented as a series of vignettes describing various scenes from Anne Roiphe’s life as a young socialite, lover, wife, and mother. To share intimate thoughts and actions from these tumultuous years is an act of bravery from a 75-yr-old feminist. There are few women who could describe the crazy 50’s and 60’s New York scene from the inside like this unflinching writer. I found it to be a perceptive re-assessment of her choice to be a muse to famous men. The stories are not in ...more
Deanna Roy
Apr 12, 2011 Deanna Roy rated it it was amazing
For anyone who wants to act as voyeur to the artist set of the 1950s, Roiphe's memoir is a well-written expose on the alcoholism, adultery, and egomania of that era.

The jumps through time, marked boldly with years, can be followed, but it's hard to imagine why Roiphe felt the urge to scurry back and forth through her history, although through most of the book, she manages to keep us mostly on track with the state of her marriage (perpetually lousy) and how free she was to disappear into bedrooms
Jul 29, 2011 Audrey added it
This book gives you quite a romp through the late 50s, early 60s in the New York City art world. I'm not sure how to rate it because while I found it interesting, it was also somewhat depressing to see how young women threw their lives and energy into the men, supporting them through their creative endeavors, drinking binges and womanizing. As the author put it..."all the women there were like the flowers on the tables at a wedding, wilting, waiting to be thrown out". It's well written and it ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Kendra rated it it was amazing
I won this in a First Reads giveaway.

This book was an incredibly evocative journey through a time in Roiphe's life when she had not yet learned to believe in her own capabilities. Her writing style is nothing short of fantastic; I found myself quoting passages aloud to people because they were just too beautiful and poignant to keep to myself. Roiphe offers her feelings at the time without much commentary -- it is left to the reader to experience her emotions and actions then and compare them wi
May 04, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
This book was an interesting read. I really actually enjoyed it, especially towards the end. The beginning started off slow for me, but I'm glad I kept reading. The only thing I didn't like so much was how much jumping around in time there was. Honestly it took me quite a few chapters in to realize that it was not going chronologically. I enjoy when books have chapters that are flashbacks, and think it can lend to plots and books in many cases. But in this case it was every chapter jumping to ...more
Joan Hanna
Feb 20, 2012 Joan Hanna rated it really liked it
This is a gritty, slice through outward appearances book that is unsettling, infuriating and raw. Roiphe’s openness in Art and Madness is what I think a memoir should be. It should make you squirm and fidget in your chair. It should make you want to put it down because even the reader feels exposed. But you will not be able to put this book down. You will want to keep reading to find out how the young woman in this book finds her way out of this world. You will want to reach into this book and ...more
Kim Schultz
Feb 05, 2011 Kim Schultz rated it it was amazing
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

What a gift. This is one of the most intimate books I've ever read. The author shares details and memories honestly and often admits that her memories may not be accurate, but this is her story and this is how she remembers the events.

Her stories about this period in literary history removed the shine from a few images I've had of writers I admire, but somehow in the end I feel grateful. That great writing can be accomplished by flawed
Feb 10, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was ok
The stream of consciousness style of this book was mostly annoying to me. I had trouble following wandering pages starting off with the author speaking of her love of her child and ending with her sleeping with some stranger that she seems to have no real connection to. Her continued desire to be some man's muse was frustrating to me as someone who was never alive during the 50s or 60s, though she obviously broke through those desires since she is an accomplished author now.
Though tough for me t
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
It is rare for me to finish a book that I do not like, but I managed to finish this one primarily because it is only 220 pages long. The title of this book is entirely appropriate: it is a memoir of lust without reason and also without morals. The author was so busy hopping into bed with this or that writer all the while bemoaning the fact that her husband drank too much and never came home, plus neglecting her child in the process, that I was mostly disgusted throughout the book. This is the ...more
Apr 20, 2011 Shruti rated it it was ok
This book could have been interesting especially since it's not typically the type of book I would choose to buy. One of the main reasons I signed up on this site was so that I could expand my horizons. with that said I had a hard time reading it/getting into the book. It moves around from one year to another, but not chronologically so it's hard to put the book down and come back to it a few days later. When you return to it I felt like I need to refresh on where I am in the story. The ...more
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
I love books about artists and the artists´ life, so I did like this, but the style was a bit too repetitive. It's as if the the author was so burned by all the artists that surrounded her at one time in her life that she was trying as hard as possible to not be an artist. Also, I find her moral stance a bit dubious. She's always conveying a sense of how senseless all that partying was, and yet she spent years and years, even after she was divorced, doing just that and sleeping with all kinds of ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Sharada rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
I won this book from Goodreads Firstreads. I thought it was a really great book. It was easy to read, it flowed well from one idea to the next, giving a clear picture of what the authors life was like. It is set in the 1950s and 60s, at a time when gender roles were changing and while I was not alive then, I could still relate to what she was feeling. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in that time period or to anyone who can relate to one woman's struggle to ...more
Apr 23, 2011 Margaret rated it liked it
Well I am glad that women have more options than during the 1950s and 60s. Roiphe was in awe of writers and secretly wanted to be a writer. She saw her role as being the help maiden to the great male writers of her era. Thru all the booze and sleeping around she depicts a life that sounds increasingly depressing and sordid in its limitations. Eventually she decides not to live thru someone else's art but instead to write her own stories.
Oct 20, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Another Smith student - can't remember if she stayed to graduate. I've never heard of Ms. Roiphe before (and see that she has written 18 books). This short book is pretty thrilling if you are interested in the literary world in the 1950's '60s. Ms. Roiphe writes a powerful story of a single woman with child intoxicated with famous authors and navigating New York CIty and meeting many of them. Another short book that packs a lot in.
Apr 25, 2011 Melanie rated it really liked it
Anne Roiphe is ruthless: With herself, the decisions of her past, her failures, and her ability to remember without bias the contents of her past. Her prose is full of insight and pause-worthy reflection. She uncovers the sores festering underneath the glamor of the golden age of literature, how ambition erases the present with its promise for the future. A heavy-hitting cautionary tale for writers and lovers.
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Over a four-decade career, Roiphe has proven so prolific that the critic Sally Eckhoff observed, "tracing Anne Roiphe's career often feels like following somebody through a revolving door: the requirements of keeping the pace can be trying." (Eckhoff described the writer as "a free-thinking welter of contradictions, a never-say-die feminist who's absolutely nuts about children"). Roiphe published ...more
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“You wanted to live inside the lines where the ordinariness of everything would protect you from the dragons that lay at the edge of the map ready to blow fire in your face if you strayed off course, to the edge of the known world.” 16 likes
“I carried with me into the West End Bar, the White Horse Tavern, a long list of things I would never do: I would never have my hair set in a beauty parlor. I would never move to a suburb and bake cakes or make casseroles. I would never go to a country club dance, although I did like the paper lanterns casting rainbow colors on the terrace. I would never invest in the stock market. I would never play canasta. I would never wear pearls. I would love like a nursling but I would never go near a man who had a portfolio or a set of golf clubs or a business or even a business suit. I would only love a wild thing. I didn't care if wild things tended to break hearts. I didn't care if they substituted scotch for breakfast cereal. I understood that wild things wrote suicide notes to the gods and were apt to show up three hours later than promised. I understood that art was long and life was short.” 3 likes
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