A filmmaker attempts to understand why so many marriages fail by interviewing survivors of divorce.
It's ironic that the author of this unoriginal book claims to have been spurred to write it by a hatred of self-help books and their attendant clichés. Former Spin senior editor Shapiro (The Every Boy, 2007), acclaimed director of Murderball and Monogamy, serves up cliché after cliché of his own, punctuated only occasionally by his shallow summaries of the lessons he's learned from his research. Perhaps the author really is motivated by a desire to understand why all of his long-term romantic relationships broke up before reaching the level of marriage. However, in most of his interviews, he focuses less on gleaning fresh insights about intimacy, communication and the nature of marriage than he does on hooking readers with tawdry, often-irrelevant details about his subjects’ sex lives. What lesson should we draw from the story of Shapiro’s friend who paid a woman to clean his apartment in the nude? “It's not that I want to be the type of guy who places sex ads on Craigslist,” he writes, “I just want to make sure that I'm never the type of husband whose wife would want to answer one.” Fair enough, but couldn't he have made this claim without subjecting us to completely unnecessary details of his friend's sexual encounter? After years of research, Shapiro's primary belief seems to be that the key to a happy marriage is having a partner who is willing to perform a couple of highly specific sex acts. Few would argue against the importance of a mutually rewarding erotic relationship, but, given the specificity of Shapiro's claims and the leading nature of his interview questions, it would be wise to take his lessons with an enormous grain of salt.
Tedious and imperceptive.