The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End

Category: Book
By (author): Roiphe, Katie
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary
  LITERARY CRITICISM / General
  PSYCHOLOGY / Grief & Loss
Publisher: Random House
Published: March 2016
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 320
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in x 0.81in
Our Price:
$ 38.25
Availability:
Available: 3-5 days

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*From one of our most perceptive and provocative voices comes a deeply researched account of the last days of Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, Maurice Sendak, and James Salter-an arresting and wholly original meditation on mortality.
 
In The Violet Hour, Katie Roiphe takes an unexpected and liberating approach to the most unavoidable of subjects. She investigates the last days of six great thinkers, writers, and artists as they come to terms with the reality of approaching death, or what T. S. Eliot called "the evening hour that strives Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea."
 
Roiphe draws on her own extraordinary research and access to the family, friends, and caretakers of her subjects. Here is Susan Sontag, the consummate public intellectual, who finds her commitment to rational thinking tested during her third bout with cancer. Roiphe takes us to the hospital room where, after receiving the worst possible diagnosis, seventy-six-year-old John Updike begins writing a poem. She vividly re-creates the fortnight of almost suicidal excess that culminated in Dylan Thomas's fatal collapse on the floor of the Chelsea Hotel. She gives us a bracing portrait of Sigmund Freud fleeing Nazi-occupied Vienna only to continue in his London exile the compulsive cigar smoking that he knows will hasten his decline. And she shows us how Maurice Sendak's beloved books for children are infused with his lifelong obsession with death, if you know where to look.
 
The Violet Hour is a book filled with intimate and surprising revelations. In the final acts of each of these creative geniuses are examples of courage, passion, self-delusion, pointless suffering, and superb devotion. There are also moments of sublime insight and understanding where the mind creates its own comfort. As the author writes, "If it's nearly impossible to capture the approach of death in words, who would have the most hope of doing it?" By bringing these great writers' final days to urgent, unsentimental life, Katie Roiphe helps us to look boldly in the face of death and be less afraid.

Advance praise for The Violet Hour
 
"In this elegant and beautifully written set of elegies, Katie Roiphe looks death squarely in the face, describing how people evanesce, how others lose them, how they lose themselves, how writing is a means to negotiate for immortality. This courageous, generous, intimate book is suffused with affection, and therefore provides comfort even when its topic is the loneliness that inheres in finality."-Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree

"Katie Roiphe's The Violet Hour is ambitious and tender. Her subject is urgent and so is her prose-pressurized, curious, vibrating. Death in these pages is also an account of how gravity takes up residence in pragmatics: edits from a hospital bed, wanting a certain kind of pie, what to do with the dog. The book is not simply about facing death-imagining it, fearing it, fighting it, craving it-but a sensitive exploration of caregiving: the labor it demands, psychic and otherwise, and the deep intimacy it permits."-Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
 
"Beautiful and haunting . . . Never overly sentimental, this is a poignant and elegant inquiry into mortality."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Review Quote*Advance praise for The Violet Hour
 
"In this elegant and beautifully written set of elegies, Katie Roiphe looks death squarely in the face, describing how people evanesce, how others lose them, how they lose themselves, how writing is a means to negotiate for immortality. This courageous, generous, intimate book is suffused with affection, and therefore provides comfort even when its topic is the loneliness that inheres in finality."-Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree

"Katie Roiphe's The Violet Hour is ambitious and tender. Her subject is urgent and so is her prose-pressurized, curious, vibrating. Death in these pages is also an account of how gravity takes up residence in pragmatics: edits from a hospital bed, wanting a certain kind of pie, what to do with the dog. The book is not simply about facing death-imagining it, fearing it, fighting it, craving it-but a sensitive exploration of caregiving: the labor it demands, psychic and otherwise, and the deep intimacy it permits."-Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
 
"Beautiful and haunting . . . Never overly sentimental, this is a poignant and elegant inquiry into mortality."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
Acclaim for Katie Roiphe's In Praise of Messy Lives
 
"[A] devastatingly good new book . . . Ms. Roiphe's are how you want your essays to sound: lean and literate, not unlike Orwell's, with a frightening ratio of velocity to torque."-Dwight Garner, The New York Times
 
"Daring, vivid, combative . . . The refreshing irreverence of her book might well be unique among writers of her generation."-Francine du Plessix Gray, The Wall Street Journal
 
"The ten literary essays at the heart of In Praise of Messy Lives are wicked and endearing; the language is conversational and burnished to a hard shine."-The New York Times Book Review
Biographical NoteKatie Roiphe is the author of several books, including The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism; Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages; In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays; and a novel, Still She Haunts Me. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Harper's, Vogue, Esquire, Slate, and Tin House. She has a Ph.D. in literature from Princeton University and is the director of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. She lives in Brooklyn.