October 10, 2012
“It seems that some of us are so busy channeling our energies into doing what is good for us, for our children, into responsible and improving endeavors, that we may have forgotten, somewhere in the harried trips to Express Yourself Through Theater or Trader Joe’s, to seize the day. Of course, people still have hangovers and affairs, but what dominates the wholesome vista is a sense that everything we do should be productive, should be moving toward a sane and balanced end, toward the dubious and fragile illusion of ‘healthy.’ The idea that you would do something just for the momentary blissful escape of it, for intensity, for strong feeling, is out of fashion.”
--Katie Roiphe, In Praise of Messy Lives
In her new essay collection, In Praise of Messy Lives, Katie Roiphe turns her exacting gaze on some of the narrow-minded social conventions governing the way we live in America today. Is there a preoccupation with “healthiness” above all else? If so, does it lead insidiously to judging anyone who tries to live differently? She examines such subjects as the current fascination with Mad Men, the oppressiveness of Facebook (“the novel we are all writing”), and the quiet malice our society displays toward single mothers. Reprinted for the first time and expanded is her much-debated New York Times Book Review cover piece, “The Naked and the Conflicted”—an unabashed argument on sex and the contemporary American male writer that is in itself an exciting and refreshing reminder that criticism matters.
Katie Roiphe will join Paul Holdengräber on stage to discuss her essays on literature and contemporary life compiled in this new publication, In Praise of Messy Lives.
KATIE ROIPHE is a professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. She is the author of five books, including Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages, and most recently, In Praise of Messy Lives. She is a weekly columnist at Slate, and her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Harper's among other places.