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Black & White by Dani Shapiro

Black & White

by Dani Shapiro

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215754,204 (3.54)9
  1. 00
    Exposure by Kathryn Harrison (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: New York City women dealing with their parent's child abuse, or at least exploitation, of them in famous photography.

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Gorgeous storytelling! I couldn't pry myself from this sharp and painful novel. ( )
  bookalover89 | Feb 12, 2011 |
Excellent book, very much in the style of Jodi Picoult. ( )
  caroren | Feb 6, 2010 |
Dani Shapiro is the queen of chronicling dysfunctional families. In Black & White she takes her struggles inwards with a book that focuses on a persons ability to reconcile who they were and who they are and how our familial relationships define us. Shapiro is an extremely talented writer and Black & White is a very well written book. ( )
  gkleinman | Mar 2, 2009 |
An interesting novel that asks the reader to define their idea of art.
Ruth Dunne, photographer, begins shooting nude photographs of her youngest daughter, Clara, at the age of three. The work continues for eleven years. Is it art or is it child pornography? And where does Ruth's responsibility as a mother to two daughters come into play? Is she abusing Clara while neglecting the elder daughter, Robin? What of the father in this family?
Clara breaks free at eighteen and starts her own life in which she marries, moves to an isolated area in Maine and has her own daughter.
Fourteen years later, Clara is forced to revisit her childhood and forced to determine what to tell her daughter.
A very well written study of this family, its intricate past and its precarious present.

Bonus - a one line mention of Sting! ( )
  aimless22 | Jun 22, 2008 |
When Clara Dunne was a young child, she became the focus of her mother Ruth’s photography. From the age of three till the age of fourteen, Clara served as her mother’s unwilling muse, and Ruth Dunne quickly became famous for her controversial, provocative nude photographs of her daughter. Driven by her success and her artistic vision, Ruth ignored Clara’s increasing unhappiness and her own husband’s disgust at the images. Finally, when Clara was eighteen, she ran away from New York City and the constant recognition of being “the girl in those photographs” and started a new life in rural Vermont.

At the story’s open, Clara has not seen her mother in fourteen years and is happily married with a young daughter of her own…a daughter who bears a striking resemblance to herself at the same age, and who knows nothing about Clara’s childhood or the photographs. Clara still fights with the demons of her past, however, and when her sister calls to tell her that their mother is dying, her initial reaction is to reject the idea of visiting the woman who tormented her childhood. And yet, she goes to New York anyway, a decision which instantly throws her life into turmoil. Her relationship with her sister is strained; her mother is every bit as overbearing as ever, despite her illness; and Clara’s daughter Samantha is hurt and confused that her mother has left her with no explanations offered; while Clara’s husband Jonathan resents bearing the weight of their daughter’s pain alone.

Seeing her mother and sister again, Clara is forced to relive the life from which she’d fled, and when Jonathan and Samantha join her in New York, she is forced to grope towards healing and forgiveness. As the title suggests, this is not a novel with many shades of grey. ( )
  kmaziarz | Jun 14, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375415483, Hardcover)

In Dani Shapiro's captivating new novel, a mother struggles to protect her young daughter from the dark secrets of her past. Haunting and insightful, Black & White explores the notions of family and motherhood, inspiration and obligation, and is sure to appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve. Find out more about Shapiro's artistic practices and influences below. --Daphne Durham

10 Second Interview: A Few Words with Dani Shapiro

Q: What is your writing process like? Has it changed from book to book?
A: As I was doing my usual flailing around before I began to write Black & White, I found that I had some questions in mind that I hoped to explore, if not answer--and those questions very much came out of my preoccupations as a writer and as a mother of a young child: is it possible to be as fully absorbed as one needs to be to produce good, strong art--and be equally fully absorbed in the raising of small children? What happens when that delicate balancing act teeters? And also, as someone who has written quite a bit of personal non-fiction, I wondered: where is the line--or perhaps it's less of a line and more of a murky gray area--when it comes to writing about the personal stuff when there's this little person who's involved, a person who will grow up and read it some day? These ideas began to really preoccupy me, and finally the novel started to form itself around them.

When I begin the first draft of a book, I write longhand. I've become quite attached to these particular spiral-bound notebooks that can only be purchased in my in-laws' hometown, and so whenever they come to visit I ask them to bring me a pile. I think most writers indulge in magical thinking when it comes to the process, and many of us require talismans; mine are these notebooks. I used to only write on the computer, but I've found, in the last number of years, that I feel much freer to have no idea where I'm going when I'm writing by hand. There's something very neat--perhaps too neat--about the blank computer screen, and the ease of cutting and pasting, moving whole blocks of text around. For me, it's infinitely more satisfying to scribble and cross things out and make big sweeping arrows and asterisks as I'm working on drafts. It looks messy and complicated--it looks like what it is. On those early pages I feel like I can see a map, or a diagram, of my process.

Q: What author/s have inspired you?
A: In the big, enduring ways, as a literary backbone: Tolstoy, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Philip Roth, Joan Didion, Saul Bellow, Grace Paley. And while I was writing Black & White, Alice Munro's stories in Runaway and Ian McEwan's novel Saturday were immensely important in my grappling with understanding how to create a close third person narrative without losing the periphery.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm trying to start a new novel. Viriginia Woolf wrote this great passage in her diary, after she finished The Waves: "I must hastily provide my mind with something else, or it will again become pecking and wretched." I'm a much nicer person when I'm working on a book. When I begin I have so little to go on--a feeling, a sense, an image or two. It's like coaxing shadows out of the corners.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:11 -0400)

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After years of estrangement from her famous photographer mother, Ruth Dunne, Clara Brodeur returns to New York City when her mother falls ill and is forced to reconcile the challenges of the past and the new life in Maine she has built for herself.

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