A crafty, veteran novelist and memoirist (Epilogue, 2008, etc.) recalls her coming-of-age as a sexy smarty-pants.
Roiphe effectively evokes the atmosphere in which a clever, pretty Jewish girl from Park Avenue might aspire to have it all, particularly if she was ready to provide whatever a needy poet, painter or playwright yearned for at the moment. Art, literature, rebellion and angst—that was life. Fresh from the sisterhood of Smith College, the author landed directly in the hot intellectual dormitory that was midcentury New York City. It was a world in which Arthur Kopit and Jack Gelber heatedly discussed Samuel Beckett and Jean Genét, where Terry Southern debated, where George Plimpton held court. Mailer and Styron were there, too. (The author notes that some names are changed in the interest of privacy). The nubile author’s postgraduate education in the arts featured encounters, frequently in bed, with such lubricious artistic teachers. They were famous and unknown, wealthy and poor, struggling aspirants and swindling liars, gay, straight, bisexual, soaked in alcohol and mostly oversexed. Roiphe discusses the awkward loss of her virginity and subsequent marriage to a feckless, failed poet and playwright. She eventually had a child and remarried. In the mob of self-centered tricksters, all she wanted was to be a writer, and she succeeded quite pleasingly. The foreword is provided by journalist daughter Katie, who writes that “this book is the record of an idea as it moves through a life: the idea is the supreme and consuming importance of art.”
A sharp, graphic potrayal of bohemian times that thoughtfully reveals the young woman the author once was.