A beautiful meditation on marriage, memory, aging, and the pleasures and perils of pursuing a creative life. Recommended By Shawn D., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The best-selling novelist and memoirist delivers her most intimate and powerful work: a piercing, life-affirming memoir about marriage and memory, about the frailty and elasticity of our most essential bonds, and about the accretion, over time, of both sorrow and love.
Hourglass is an inquiry into how marriage is transformed by time – abraded, strengthened, shaped in miraculous and sometimes terrifying ways by accident and experience. With courage and relentless honesty, Dani Shapiro opens the door to her house, her marriage, and her heart, and invites us to witness her own marital reckoning – a reckoning in which she confronts both the life she dreamed of and the life she made, and struggles to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.
What are the forces that shape our most elemental bonds? How do we make lifelong commitments in the face of identities that are continuously shifting, and commit ourselves for all time when the self is so often in flux? What happens to love in the face of the unexpected, in the face of disappointment and compromise – how do we wrest beauty from imperfection, find grace in the ordinary, desire what we have rather than what we lack? Drawing on literature, poetry, philosophy, and theology, Shapiro writes gloriously of the joys and challenges of matrimonial life, in a luminous narrative that unfurls with urgent immediacy and sharp intelligence. Artful, intensely emotional work from one of our finest writers.
"Reading this book was like skating across a perfect piece of ice and then slowly noticing the cracks. Dark, cold water shows through. We can’t see the depths. Be careful, Shapiro warns, be careful, but still she skates on in the fading light with remarkable beauty and grace." Jenny Offill
"To write openly about an enduring intimate relationship requires courage and tact… In this compelling account of her 18-year marriage, Shapiro carefully exposes the vulnerabilities that have subtly begun to surface within the relationship…The narrative demonstrates Shapiro’s finely tuned, poetic skills as a writer… A sharply observed and frequently moving memoir of marriage." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"In this touching and intimate memoir… Shapiro beautifully weaves together her own moving language and a commonplace book’s worth of perfect quotes from others." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Rilke reminds us that "There are multitudes of people, but there are many more faces, because each person has several of them." And how do we, moment after elusive moment, marry then continue to change and grow yet still accommodate these multitudes in one another? This is just one of the piercingly compelling questions Dani Shapiro explores in her masterfully rendered new memoir. Written with erudition, hard-earned wisdom, and sensual grace, Hourglass is a fearless and lovely mosaic of those very fragments that make life worth living, the only one we get. I adore this book." Andre Dubus III
"Compassionate, insightful, and powerfully honest, in Hourglass Dani Shapiro illuminates the deepest mysteries, contradictions, and consolations of so very much — love, memory, the people we used to be and the people we’ve become. In other words: life. I was absorbed by Hourglass and consoled by it, too. It’s a beautiful book by a writer of rare talent." Cheryl Strayed
About the Author
Dani Shapiro is the author of the memoirs Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, Vogue, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times and has been broadcast on This American Life. Shapiro was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on Super Soul Sunday. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, the New School, and Wesleyan University; she is cofounder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. Shapiro lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
Dani Shapiro on PowellsBooks.Blog
I want to say a few words about impatience. I often tell my students that writers are the most impatient people on the planet, doing the thing that requires more patience than just about anything else. We lay down lines of words like children scratching twigs against wet sand near the shoreline. The waves come and erase what we’ve written...
Dani Shapiro on PowellsBooks.Blog
In the spring of 2016, I stumbled entirely by accident on a massive family secret. My father — whom I adored, and who died when I was young — hadn’t been my biological father. I made this discovery because I had my DNA tested through a commercial testing site. There was no reason for me to do this...