Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy
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Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  536 ratings  ·  70 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....more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
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TC
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
Ellenjsmellen
Could not put this down. What a story. Anybody else a Dani Shapiro fan? I'm going to read Picturing the Wreck next.
Judy
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...more
Laura
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.
Deborah
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...more
Sarah B.
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
Callie
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
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.
Ann
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.
Danielle
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.
Angeld01
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.
Ann
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...
Barbara
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.
Beth
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!!
Haley
Beautifully written, very poetic, amazingly artistic language. A haunting story about the danger of sublimating your self completely to another.
Karen
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.
Tsa
Enjoying it thus far :)

Liked it- she's a great writer/storyteller. I really enjoy her writing style.
Meg
forget joan didion, dani shapiro does grief right.
Tammie Vannoord
Couldn't put this one down!
linnea
I adored this memoir.
Elle
I read this book in one day, its a very quick interesting read. I like the author's writing style which is crisp and engaging. I've also read another of this author's books, Devotion, and would recommend reading this book first. Leads to a better understanding of the author's development.
Sara
I learned about this book after hearing the author read a portion of it on an old podcast of This American Life. I was intrigued. The section was about her affair with a married high-powered lawyer that was also the father of her best friend. The book was about so much more, her childhood in a jewish (half orthodox) home and the tragic car accident her parents were in that kicks off the book. She's able to jump back and forth in time with a strong narrative.

I read the book in just a couple days...more
Larry Smith
Okay, this is an award winning memoir of Dani Shapiro young adult life as a Jewish daughter, small time actress, mistress to famed older lawyer--all of that, and after following her downward spiral for three fourths of the book, she finally gets herself together in a rushed final quarter. The car crash of her parents may precipitate some of this resurrection, but it's a long time before she gets any insight to herself. I was considering it as an all-college book read for our campus, but it just...more
Victoria
Compelling and self pitying. It was a real page turner, exciting, sensational, and often titilating. If it were a novel it would be too trashy for me, but because it is memoir I breezed through it. It was somewhat disjointed and repetitive at times and I grew tired of the self pity, the poor little rich girl, the self important family drama. But reading someone else's demons can be very entertaining.
Libby
I've enjoyed everything I've ever read by Dani Shapiro, and this book is no exception. A vivid evocation of her life before and after a car crash that gravely injured her father and mother, the book describes--in often painful detail--her conflicted relationship with her mother and the silently loving one with her father. Leaving college to pursue an acting career and a relationship with a much older married man (the stepfather of a college friend) who lavishes expensive gifts and trips on her,...more
Ellen Keim
I know I'm going against the tide here (the book had positive reviews, even in the N.Y.Times), but I hated this book. I read it because of an article by Shapiro on Salon.com that I really enjoyed. But I found this book to be self-indulgent and predictable and the writing uninspiring and not very perceptive. Maybe she was just not that accomplished of a writer when she wrote this and I should give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, I have liked her articles. But I guess this book just doesn...more
Allison
I couldn't put this down because the writing is superb. Whatever you think of the story, you can't stop reading it.
Lily
Dani Shapiro: a new favorite author for me. Slow Motion is a memoir of a time in her life that she still looks back on with a dull ache. In a bittersweet voice, she recounts her early twenties, during which she was a Sarah Lawrence drop-out, the mistress of a New York City lawyer, a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a failed actress -- all at once.

Unexpectedly, her life is rescued by tragedy. Her parents suffer a serious car accident. In taking responsibility for their health and well-being, she s...more
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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.
More about Dani Shapiro...
Family History Devotion: A Memoir Black & White Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life Picturing the Wreck

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