Lisa Schwarzbaum
March 16, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Art and Madness

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Anne Roiphe
publisher
Nan A. Talese
genre
Memoir

We gave it an B-

Anne Roiphe, the provocative 75-year-old novelist, journalist, and memoirist, has always had the canny ability to get under a reader’s skin, usually by making assertive but blithely unanalytical statements. Her new hellzablazin’ memoir, Art and Madness, takes such dramatic maneuvers to new levels. The setting is 1950s and ’60s New York, where she lusted after brutish Artists (drunks, narcissists, and adulterers who consumed the bodies and souls of the willing females around them). Roiphe recounts how she herself was eager to be consumed, and how she married (and later divorced)a playwright who treated her cruelly, and how she welcomed Artists to her bed,and how she dragged her anxious baby daughter to parties without a thought.(Afterward, married to a kinder second husband, she became a feminist.) In fair exchange, Roiphe asks for no compassion either for or from herself. B?

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