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Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage Hardcover – April 11, 2017
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Praise for Hourglass
“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.”
“Gorgeous, stunning, extraordinary— life-changing.”
“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
“Dani Shapiro’s prose is elegant and crystal clear, the perfect vehicle for her fierce intelligence and curiosity about things that lurk just out of view. Hourglass is such a lovely book.”
“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.”
“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)
“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)
"These memories form a reality that is as diaphanous, fragile and as surprisingly resilient as a spider web. Hourglass is not only a profound and moving reflection on Shapiro’s marriage, but on all marriages."
"[Shapiro] has never written anything as raw, dark, or brave as Hourglass... a penetrating meditation... Hourglass is a stalwart witness to the erosions of time’s tides that, in being stalwart, it also wishes to stand against.’’
—The Boston Globe
"A meditation that’s intimate, wide-ranging, funny and smart."
—Portland Press Herald
"Dani Shapiro presents a sharp look at the realities of marriage. She does so in delicate strokes, never seeming self-conscious. With a combination of engaged storytelling and what remains carefully unsaid, Shapiro creates an abstract intimacy that allows the reader into her experience... It is the very book that should be given to a young couple at the beginning of their relationship."
"That delicate, ferocious act of unsweeping ourselves from the river of time and unplundering its instants is what Dani Shapiro explores with uncommon elegance in Hourglass— at once a memoir and a quiet manifesto for how, despite the cavalcade of losses and the exponential narrowing of possibility marking the passage of the years, it remains possible to have an expansive and creatively invigorating existence. In Shapiro’s virtuosic hands, time compresses and expands — an accordion playing the sorrowful yet redemptive melody that is life."
"Shapiro’s honesty and devotion to her craft are impossible to detangle from her love of family....This potent memoir is a graceful meditation on the fragile balance of time, love, and loss. It’s an excellent entry point for Shapiro’s poignant and personal oeuvre. So start with this latest, and take it from there."
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
“Let the young soul look back upon its life and ask itself: what until now have you truly loved, what has raised your soul, what ruled it and at the same time made it happy? Line up these objects of reference before you, and perhaps by what they are and their sequence, they will yield you a law, the fundamental law of your true self.” Nietzsche quoted by Shapiro in her book.
Just as the author quotes the great philosopher, among many writers, she references a children’s book, FORTUNATELY, UNFORTUNATELY, which captivated me. The significance of living life not according to a plan and hoping for the best.
Being so open about what makes a marriage, her own, how it cycles, what worries us as individuals, as a couple, how we cope, how we love, how we overcome. HOURGLASS is a relatable love story. It’s not sugar-coated nor is it damaging. It is life.
One additional point, this is not just a book about a marriage. It is sprinkled with stories about Shapiro’s life as a writer, the loss of her parents and choices that she has made. It is a beautifully rendered message of time.
Never before have I finished a book, then immediately returned to page one to read it through again...and still looked forward to the third read. This spare, exquisite memoir moved me to laughter and tears, and its lyrical prose still rings in my ears. Five stars isn't enough for this gorgeous book.
“Where does hope go when it vanishes?”
“At 40 my mother died. And then a long, merciful stretch of ordinary days.”
“There is no other life than this. You would not have stumbled into the vastly imperfect, beautiful, impossible present.”
“It was not the education I wanted, but it was the one I got.”
“The more dangerous the situation, the slower his pulse.”
“We were struggling contented, bewildered, joyful, full of longing, grief-stricken, fearful, searching, at peace.”
“But I can no longer say to M. that we’re just beginning. Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. That solid yet light thing---our journey—is no longer new. He identified my mother’s body. We took turns holding our seizing child. We have watched his mother disappear in plain sight. We have raised Jacob together. We know each other in a way that young couple couldn’t have fathomed. Our shared vocabulary—our own language---will die with us. We are the treasure itself: fathoms deep, in the world we have made again and again.”
What I especially loved about this memoir:
--the book builds on itself, rewarding our own memories as we read
--the connections that Shapiro makes across the moments of her marriage answer one of the key questions of the book: how does a relationship and marriage sustain itself beyond those first eighteen months of infatuation/love
--Shapiro's honesty drew me in
--it's not "too cool" to tell a love story