Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage
Readers may come to Dani Shapiro’s new memoir feeling as if they know quite a lot about her already. In previous memoirs, she’s documented the fumblings, questions, and triumphs that have marked her life across four decades. In Hourglass, she’s both more generous and riskier, exposing the tremors underpinning her eighteen years of marriage to the spouse she refers to as M. Stretching her story across time, from the day they met to the present, Shapiro connects often mundane moments and memories to create a portrait of a marriage–and a life–that owes as much to good fortune as to sheer determination and faith.
Among many, many remarkable elements of this memoir is how adept Shapiro is at reminding readers of the limits of her literary exposure. While she explores in some depth the near-loss of her young son, she offers only glimpses of other extreme heartaches–a miscarriage, a biopsy–suggesting that the fissures and devotion within her marriage go much deeper than these pages reveal. Rather than tell all, Shapiro tells some–and her memoir is more moving for the discretion. Others’ marriages can never be fully understood. Shapiro makes the case that even one’s own is, in some ways, an enduring mystery.