Daneile Joyce "Dani" Shapiro is the author of five novels and the best-selling memoirs Slow Motion and Devotion. She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, and ELLE.[1]

Life

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.[2] 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.[3][4]

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 were 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".[5]

On October 20, 2013 she appeared on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday on Winfrey's OWN to discuss her book Devotion.

Since 1997 she has been married[6] to screenwriter Michael Maren. They have one child.

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."[7]

Books