Thanks to Shapiro’s tender mastery of her story and her craft – knowing when to dwell in detail, and when the bird’s-eye view will better situate the author’s own small experience within the species’ – Hourglass yields a rare combination of lyrical writing and startling, sometimes disturbing insights. Reading Hourglass is like spying on the slow, intimate dance of two imperfect, well-intentioned humans, moving through their devotion and their doubts, riding the quotidian tides of passion and contentment and antipathy.
Dani Shapiro has written several courageous and searing memoirs...She has never written anything as raw, dark, or brave as Hourglass ... Hourglass is not an unflawed work...But for the most part she gives us a gorgeous, poetic stay against loss and confusion ... Hourglass is a stalwart witness to the erosions of time’s tides that, in being stalwart, it also wishes to stand against.
Her other memoirs have explored the terror of coping with her then-infant son's life-threatening illness and her parents' deaths. But Hourglass is different: It's less an account of catastrophe than it is a clear-eyed inspection of the slow cracks certain to develop in a long marriage ... In addition to its many other virtues, Hourglass underscores the tightrope tension of trying to support a middle-class lifestyle on writing.