Anna Shapiro is the author of a collection of literary essays and three novels, the most recent of which is Living on Air (2006), and has reviewed books for The New Yorker and The Guardian, among other publications. (November 2018)

Follow Anna Shapiro on Twitter: @AnnarobertaS.

NYR DAILY

My Father’s Art

David Shapiro: Untitled (self-portrait), 1932

It is my experience that most people in the arts feel a kind of comfort in lacking worldly success. They fight for it, and suffer over it, but it is so much safer not to have it—safer from envy, judgment, exposure; from the dangers attendant on superseding parents or companions—that, either through the work itself or by way of fumbling encounters with the world, they ensure it won’t happen. But this doesn’t seem true of my father. I think he naïvely, to the end, possibly through arrogance, expected the work to be its own ambassador. It had once been enough.