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.
In this touching and intimate memoir, Shapiro (Slow Motion, Devotion) admits that she has lost interest in telling stories. Instead she focuses on what is underneath: "the soft, pulsing thing that is true." Over the years, the truth has become less hard-edged, more nuanced, than when she was young and had "all the self-knowledge of a Labrador retriever." She does revisit earlier themes her father's death, her son's devastating illness but really this is about her 18-year marriage to "M." There are many ups and plenty of downs, too. M had traded his career as a successful war correspondent for one as a struggling screenwriter, so that she wouldn't have to worry about him being on the battlefield. But she does worry about him, fretting that one more disappointment will lead to hopelessness and he will follow his mother's descent into Alzheimer's. Shapiro beautifully weaves together her own moving language and a commonplace book's worth of perfect quotes from others. Journals from her honeymoon the last she kept are often lists of things and places that in their very meaninglessness make an effective counterpoint, emphasizing what she has learned since the days of that beginning.
To hold your words, I had to take pause and rest between your memories. I felt my own balancing act of minding my marriage and our feelings and the tension of uncertainty. To admit in a world full of those who seemingly have their futures set and planned, that we haven't or can't but wish we had and did or will...plan a more certain future.
Thank you for this book, you see I am also married 18 years and I work the creative, uncertain path of art and self-employment with my husband.
Beautifully written, again-thank you.
Beautifully written and an exploration of the ordinary/extraordinary. Read it in one day.