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You Can Be Right (or You Can Be Married): Looking for Love in the Age of Divorce Hardcover – September 4, 2012
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“A wonderful and important piece of thinking and reporting.”
--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Committed: A Love Story and Eat, Pray, Love
"A book about divorce written by a man who's never been married should be ridiculous. And yet I gobbled up this odd and touching and delicious book. I read it in a single sitting. And what's more, I learned something new about love and marriage and passion and commitment."
--Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
"After reading Dana Adam Shapiro's fascinating and revealing book, I will never again take my marriage for granted. I would write more, but I have to go buy some scented candles and tidy up the kitchen."
--A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection
"As a couples therapist, I witness daily the unraveling of adult intimacies. Dana Adam Shapiro's gripping testimonies of demise and divorce are written with vividness and aplomb—I felt as if he were eavesdropping in my office. A grand reportage of marriage and its discontents."
--Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence
“Divorce is a reality most of us will deal with (maybe twice). It is an elemental human struggle. It can be heartbreaking, angering, confusing, elating, dangerous, completely annihilating, embarrassing, absolutely necessary and above all, deep and touching. If you have left or been left and feel alone, you won’t after reading these stories.”
--Marc Maron , WTF with Marc Maron and The Marc Maron Show
About the Author
Dana Adam Shapiro directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary Murderball. He is the author of The Every Boy, a former senior editor at Spin, and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Venice, California.
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Essentially Shapiro, who has never made it to the altar, interviews a number of divorced people and writes about the demise of the marriages. And each story is a little more bizarre than the last. The title of the book is clever, though a little misleading. It suggests that both partners need to be flexible and forgiving to make a marriage work. And that very well may be true, but it's not what this book is all about. In fact, I'm not sure that most of the failed marriages described in this book would have ever worked -- nor should they necessarily work.
Most of the stories are just a few pages long, and they are written in the style of an interview -- questions and answers. The interviewee is identified by name, occupation, year of birth, area of residence, year of marriage, how long he or she dated before getting married, and the year of divorce. Followed by the divorce story, presented in Q&A format. Some of the interviewees are bitter and hostile about their divorces, others are not. There's alot of infidelity, emotional and otherwise, as well as other issues. The stories are pretty interesting -- -- a social worker who had an affair with her violent homeless client, and eventually lost her marriage and husband because of it; a hetero, married-to-a-woman cross-dressing male psychologist who just had a need to act like a woman and have sex with men on occasion; and elderly woman who had been a very wealthy man's mistress for many years, etc.
One thing that struck me in reading these stories is that there are all types in the world. Many of the interviewees who described disastrous marriages in telling their divorce stories now claim to be very happy in their current marriages. Another thing that struck me was the need for authenticity. You may as well be yourself and reveal your true character, personality, likes and dislikes to someone early on in a relationship -- there is no point in hiding your flaws or quirks or whatever and later getting upset because your partner doesn't accept you as you are.
Overall, this was a surprisingly quick and interesting read, though it does make you wonder about the institution of marriage!.
In the introduction, the author admits to being 38, and never getting past the three year point in numerous relationships. This same lack of commitment is expressed in how the book is written: going through the motions and creating distractions to disguise the lack of genuine care. Too bad because the format has a lot of potential.
So there's no constructive reason to read the book. But maybe there's some entertainment value to be found in You Can Be Right... well no. The book is really depressing throughout. I should have given more credit to the one and two star reviews before deciding to purchase.
For a five star book on the subject, check out Ask Barbara: The 100 Most Asked Questions About Love, Sex, and Relationships