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Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  957 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews

At twenty-three, Dani Shapiro was in the midst of a major rebellion against her religious upbringing. She had dropped out of college, was halfheartedly acting in television commercials, and was carrying on with an older married man when her life was changed, in an instant, by a phone call. Her parents had been in a devastating car accident. Neither was expected to survive.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
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Nov 13, 2010 Judy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book came highly recommended to me, and I made the mistake of reading reviews before reading the book. And after reading the book, I can only wonder if the other reviewers read the same thing that I did.

This is nothing but a big whine. Poor me. Look at all these horrible things that happened to me. Wah wah wah. It's the story of a privileged woman making a lot of really stupid and narcissistic choices in her life, and then blaming the world for the way things turned out. There's no introspe
Apr 16, 2009 Ellenjsmellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Could not put this down. What a story. Anybody else a Dani Shapiro fan? I'm going to read Picturing the Wreck next.
Mar 04, 2012 TC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
A well-written memoir of a NYC-area Jewish woman starting her adulthood in the 80's as a coked-out, bulimic, alcoholic, college-dropout mistress of an older, powerful, and well-known lawyer whose career and persona defined 80's excesses (here called "Lenny Klein," but without doubt the infamous disgraced litigator Harvey Myerson). The author is faced with a personal tragedy that forces her to re-examine her life's decisions and her unfulfilled childhood, and it is in this context she relates bot ...more
Joan Winnek
This book redeemed itself. Maybe only a person who has reformed can be so honest about how awful she once was (a person I found highly irritating). Appropriately, the narrative focuses on the parents' accident and the transformation that brought about in the writer. I wish, however, more detail about her return to college and the beginning of her writing career had been included. The denouement of Lenny is given too much weight, after it was such a relief when she finally detached herself from h ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to read a memoir about being the other woman that unfolds like the proverbial train wreck, here you go. The book is a good, compelling read, and you can see the author is putting her MFA to good use. My main quibble with it is her tendency to depict the events as things that just happened to her and were beyond her control.
I'd like to give this book a rating of 2, but because I know that ten years ago, my early twenties self would have rated it a 5, I split the difference and settled on 3.

23-year-old me would have relished this memoir, but 33-year-old me no longer thinks Elizabeth Wurtzel is the best writer of her generation and is not so enamored with addiction and/or depression memoirs anymore.

In her early twenties, Dani Shapiro is a college dropout, failed model/actress, cocaine addict, alcoholic, mistress of
Sep 20, 2010 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning prequel to the writer she would become. You will not like her, or the story she tells, but the redemption and fulfillment is foretold.
Judy Mann
Dec 02, 2014 Judy Mann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a stupid stupid book. First you take money- endless amounts of money out of this book, then you take how spellbindingly pretty the author thinks she is- you take those two things out of the book and what have you got left? Nothing. Bupkis Zero..
This is a major epic length whine by a poor little rich girl that makes me want to wretch.
She spends endless amounts of time telling us how her looks have made her..desirable. Now right here I have no choice but to say- how catty as it might seem
Sarah B.
Feb 20, 2013 Sarah B. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I liked this book, it was a quick and exciting read. I agree with other reviewers that it had many problems: first, by leaving out some important personal history (i.e. her first marriage), I think we get the wrong idea about who the author is in this book. Secondly, it is pretty much the story of how a highly privileged person in her 20s was forced out of adolescence by her parents' car accident. It's hard to muster much sympathy for someone whose real problem is that she is basically still a t ...more
Dec 02, 2009 Callie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give it a four start "really liked this book" rating b/c I have been missing reading memoirs and her life is so different than mine, how could I not be entranced? She was the mistress of some rich powerful New York lawyer for four years. She's from a wealthy Jewish family and she was an only child, and then in the middle of this affair she's having, her parents are in a car wreck (this happens at the beginning of the book) which starts her on a path to putting her life back on course, because ...more
Sarah Hine
Jul 19, 2010 Sarah Hine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Shapiro's recently published "Devotion," I went back to some of her earlier work as I found her writing to be well-crafted, balanced, thoughtful, engaging and enjoyable. Slow Motion, another memoir, was very similar in kind to "Devotion," but eminently readable, and a serious page turner - I started it on the train in the morning and absolutely devoured it, even staying up until 2 a.m. to finish it!
Michelle Bouchor
I'm so glad Dani Shapiro wrote an autobiography. It's always entertaining to read about the author from their own words. I was glad to see that she didn't have any "Everything is awful and none of it is my fault" times. She did make some bad decisions, but she took full responsibility for them, knowing she had the power to change. I thought it was quite honest and I'm glad I picked it up.
Jul 03, 2010 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir about a parent's death that includes her recovery from alcoholism and a terrible affair with her best friend's step father (who ends up being a crook). It's a pretty upper class/exclusive world that I didn't connect with.
Feb 11, 2010 Angeld01 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good. Amazing writer. Even though Dani was a mess in this book, and would have been unlikeable in many ways; she writes so well that you have compassion for her imperfections and those around her.
Apr 26, 2010 Danielle marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deep, own
The original subtitle is "A memoir of a life rescued by tragedy." Not sure when I'll be brave enough to read this book, but I picked it up at the Dollar Table at the Strand, so it's waiting for me when I get up the nerve.
Beautifully written, very poetic, amazingly artistic language. A haunting story about the danger of sublimating your self completely to another.
Apr 30, 2007 linnea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I adored this memoir.
Mar 31, 2010 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shapiro's account of her life as a young woman who's struggle with substance abuse came to and end with her parent's tragic car accident that killed her father....a true story of transformation...
Moira Russell
Feb 05, 2009 Moira Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: underwhelmed
One of those slight memoirs that manages somehow to give a bad name to the entire genre.
Jul 21, 2007 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I recommend this memoir All The Time. Because Shapiro is namely a novelist, it's a great study in how to write a memoir with a shape and with drama. I love the voice and the writing in this book.
Tammie Vannoord
Couldn't put this one down!
Oct 29, 2007 Meg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
forget joan didion, dani shapiro does grief right.
Feb 25, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just read this one recently, it is a fast read. I seem to like these memoirs! This is another really well written one, that has you going, wow this really happened!!
Apr 09, 2010 Tsa rated it really liked it
Enjoying it thus far :)

Liked it- she's a great writer/storyteller. I really enjoy her writing style.
Mary Kenyon
This was my "on the airplane read," and one I thought I'd enjoy because I loved the author's writing style in one of her other books. And while I did finish the book on a 3-hour flight, and left it behind for someone else, I did not do what I usually do when I leave a book behind. Normally, I put a random act of kindness card (in honor of my grandson) in the book. I didn't want my beautiful innocent grandson's name associated with a book that left me shaking my head at the author's terrible, not ...more
Christopher Rabley
It takes courage to write such a memoir; describe what it is like to lose one's way, get caught in a destructive track, and as well deal with family dynamics and most of all, the devastating loss of her Father. I also like how the author details the insight she gained when her life turned for the better. But most of all, quite simply, I love how this author writes; what she says, how she says it.
Independent Journalist Jennifer Karchmer
Expertly written memoir of the author's life in her twenties. As a Jewish New Yorker myself, I identified with much of the geographic and cultural references. Although not raised Orthodox like the author, I found myself laughing, and at times distraught, during some of the scenes with her parents on holidays and also amid funeral and burial details.

I found the entire book engaging and read it in just a few sittings over one weekend. Shapiro avoids being self-deprecating nor boastful and shares
Pierced Librarian
Oct 31, 2016 Pierced Librarian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Some folks
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I can see why a lot of folks are super turned off by this memoir.

It can be really easy to think that money, cars, mink coats, jewelry, Ivy League education, modeling in the 80's, sports cars, traveling on the Concorde like it was public transportation, jet-setting, international travel, and living in posh accommodations in NY would buy you a lot of opportunities to not be such a resounding fuck up.

But even if you removed all of Shapiro's relentless driving home that she is of wealth- you still
"One of the few gifts of spending so many years doing the wrong thing is the clarity with which I can see when something is right."

Dani Shapiro brings to the page unflinching truths about herself in her early to mid-20s. Raised in the Jewish tradition, Dani was also raised with money and privilege. Now in her second decade, she has become the mistress of her best friend's step-father.

From here, you can expect to read about multiple falls from grace but also an awakening triggered by the phone c
Sep 12, 2016 Edith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I have mixed feelings about this memoir about a ‘poor little rich girl’ who portrays herself as falling into the clutches of a very rich powerful MARRIED New York lawyer who spends tons of money on her and with whom she engages in a four-year relationship. Her life involves constant excessive drinking, drug addiction, dropping out of college and trying for an acting career.

The book begins with both of her parents barely surviving a horrible car accident and with her father dying shortly thereaft
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Dani Shapiro is the author of five novels and the best-selling memoir Slow Motion. She has also written for magazines such as The New Yorker and Elle.

She lives with her husband and young son in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
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“What she doesn't realize is that I have survived for her as well -- and only now am I beginning to survive for myself.” 0 likes
“But today, something begins to shift. I see that there might be some way I can take the raw material of my life and transform it into something that has order and structure. I can make sense of what, until now, has been senseless.” 0 likes
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