at Fall for the Book, 2014
April 10, 1962|
New York City, United States
Dani Shapiro (born April 10, 1962) is an American writer who is the author of five novels and the best-selling memoirs Hourglass, Slow Motion and Devotion. She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and ELLE. Born Daneile Joyce Ellen Shapiro, she legally changed her name to Dani in 2017.
Shapiro attended the Pingry School, a prep school in New Jersey, then Sarah Lawrence College, where she was influenced by Grace Paley, who was one of her teachers. Shapiro has also written for the screen, having adapted Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince for HBO in 1999. In 2000, she co-wrote a screenplay based on her memoir, Slow Motion, with her husband, journalist and screenwriter Michael Maren. She has been a professor of creative writing at Wesleyan University and an instructor at the New School and Columbia University.
In a 2011 interview with the Jewish Ledger, Shapiro described being raised in a family with an Orthodox Jewish father and a mother from South Jersey who had grown up in a non-Orthodox home. Her parents agreed to observe Judaism and Shapiro attended a Solomon Schechter Jewish day school through 6th grade. After moving from New York City to Connecticut in her 40s, Shapiro recounts her "vestigial feeling" connecting her to Judaism was reawakened and that she "could no more reject my Judaism than reject being female, or being a mother, or a wife, or a writer, or any of the things that most define me".
Reflections on memoir
In The New York Times Book Review preparatory to the publication of her fourth memoir, Shapiro wrote, "People who have read my work feel as if they know me. And while certainly there is a powerful intimacy inherent in the experience of reading memoir, readers who meet me seem a bit embarrassed by this intimacy, as if, rather than having read my books, they have seen me naked without my consent. They seem to think of memoirs as more personal than any other literary form, as if the word 'memoir' necessarily signals confession, testimony, diary and strip tease all in one." Shapiro further wrote that she objected to the effects of this familiarity: "Shortly after the publication of my second memoir, I was startled to realize that I had become lonely. I had been speaking a great deal: in bookstores, behind podiums, on stages. I could weave articulate, compelling answers in discussion about my books. But when it came to my life—to that soft, pulsing, internal backbeat—people had stopped asking me questions, because they thought they already had the answers." She continued, "Some readers of memoir are looking for secrets, for complete transparency on the part of the author, as if the point is confession, and the process of reading memoir, a voyeuristic one. This idea of transparency troubles me, and is, I think, at the root of the serial memoirist’s plight. My goal when I sit down to write out of my own circumstances is not to make myself transparent. In fact, I am building an edifice. Stone by stone, I am constructing a story. Brick by brick, I am learning what image, what memory belongs to what." She concluded, "I have used my life—rather than my life using me—to make something more beautiful and refined than I could ever be."
|Library resources about |
|By Dani Shapiro|
- Playing with Fire Doubleday Publishing Group, 1990, ISBN 9780385267229
- Fugitive Blue Smithmark Publishers, Incorporated, 1997, ISBN 9780831791063
- Picturing the Wreck Plume, 1996, ISBN 9780452277694
- Slow Motion: A True Story. Random House Publishing Group. 1998. ISBN 978-0-307-82800-2.
- Family History: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 2003. ISBN 978-0-307-42585-0.
- Dani Shapiro (2007). Black & White. Random House Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-4000-3212-9.
- Devotion: A Memoir. HarperCollins. 26 January 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-162834-4.
- Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8021-9343-8.
- Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage. Alfred A. Knopf, Incorporated. 2017. ISBN 978-0-4514-9448-1.
- Barnes & Noble Interview & Writer Details
- Danaroc.com Interview
- About the Author, Powell's Books.
- Shapiro, Dani (June 15, 2011). "#amwriting". NPlusOne. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
- Mindell, Cindy. "Q & A: Author Dani Shapiro", Jewish Ledger, January 12, 2011. Accessed February 11, 2011.
- Weddings: "Dani Shapiro, Michael P Maren", The New York Times, June 8, 1997.
- Shapiro, Dani, "When You Write a Memoir, Readers Think They Know You Better Than They Do", The New York Times, June 27, 2016.