family history

Dani Shapiro is one of my all-time favorite writers.  She knows how to tell a story–how to slowly release details in order to build tension and lure the reader forward. The first book of hers I read was Family History, published in 2003, but which I did not discover until October of 2005.

How does a writer know what to start with?  When to reveal a detail?  What is just enough to keep a reader interested but not so much that the reader has no place in the process?

It begins:

“I lie in bed these days and watch home movies–a useless exercise, to be sure, but I can’t stop myself.  Ned’s an amateur filmmaker, and ever since we got our first video camera when Kate was born, he has documented our family’s life, not just birthday parties and anniversaries but smaller, more telling moments.

I recommend all her books.

  • Playing With Fire, 1989
  • Fugitive Blue, 1993
  • Picturing the Wreck, 1996
  • Slow Motion, 1998
  • Family History, 2003
  • Black & White, 2007