The acclaimed and beloved author of Hourglass now gives us a new memoir about identity, paternity, and family secrets–a real-time exploration of the staggering discovery she recently made about her father, and her struggle to piece together the hidden story of her own life.
What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?
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.
– Publishers Weekly
From the best-selling author of Devotion and Slow Motion comes a witty, heartfelt, and practical look at the exhilarating and challenging process of storytelling. At once a memoir, meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing is an intimate and eloquent companion to living a creative life.
“I was on the verge of tears more than once in the course of Dani Shapiro’s impeccably structured spiritual odyessy. But Devotion’s biggest triumph is its voice: funny and unpretentious, concrete and earthy–appealing to skeptics and believers alike. This is a gripping, beautiful story.”
– Jennifer Egan
Ambitious…thrilling…Shapiro’s subtle, nuanced handling of her material emphasizes the radical subjectivity of experience, and builds into a powerful and compelling point.
– Darcy Cosper, TIMEOUT NEW YORK
“Shapiro writes wonderfully. . .she gently regulates the tone of the novel to reflect the tenuous nature of its central conflict. Her portrayal of a mother and wife struggling to accept the limits of her love and custody will resonate with anyone who has wished they could protect someone, and failed.”
– Jillian Dunham, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“Absorbing, sweetly stinging…Shapiro’s book succeeds as a gracefully written story of reckoning inspired by tragedy and the long reach of familial roots.”
– Elizabeth Bukowski, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Exposing the mind of an emotionally devastated 64-year-old man is a courageous literary endeavor for a young female author, and PICTURING THE WRECK gives credence to the power of the imagination and the writer’s skill. With fluid prose and keen observation, Shapiro takes us achingly close to the center of a tortured heart and soul.”
– Louisa Ermelino, PEOPLE
“This is a sophisticated and deeply felt story of fugitive love and the crucial instinct for survival and forgiveness.”