The most astonishing aspect of Stacy Morrison’s account of the end of her marriage in Falling Apart in One Piece is her willingness to unflinchingly examine her own complicity in its demise and to do so in front of a vast audience of potentially hostile strangers. Ultimately that brave and public self-examination is also the book’s greatest gift.
Listening to a book amplifies the already intimate experience of reading and here author also serves as narrator. There is an unrehearsed pain in Stacy’s voice as she recounts the night her husband Chris declared their 13-year-long marriage over with the simple but chilling phrase “I’m done”. There is no hiding from her authentic sorrow, the naked grief in her voice when she says: “I slid slowly down the cabinets until I was sitting on the kitchen floor and I cried for all the ways I had failed, and all the ways I did not know how to fix my life.” So, prepare yourself.
Stacy’s life is stamped with ambition. Her passion for her career in publishing is an indelible part of her personality and this narrative. You may recognize her as the most recent Editor in Chief of Redbook, the venerable 107-year-old women’s magazine. Or you might know of her first incarnation in that role at Modern Bride, a position she held at the very tender age of 29.
But those remarkable achievements can’t save her marriage, and nothing can change the fact that she now faces life as a single parent to their five-month-old son Zach. Stacy wonders out loud if her drive for success is the final wedge between her and Chris, “Reason #159”. Or is it her optimism and her generous love of people, a nature that sits in sharp contrast to his introverted and worrying one, that ultimately breaks them apart. She also asks, but never gets to know why, their recently purchased Brooklyn house begins to flood and then leak, along with her emotional life. Both marriage and house were seemingly intact when she had started on this particular leg of her journey.
We read memoirs for any number of reasons, including the hope that we’ll find insight into our own problems and possibly, solutions. Stacy reminds us that, “Divorce is such a personal experience,” even as she welcomes us into her bedroom and onto her kitchen floor. In this book I did not find a previously whole woman putting together the broken pieces, but instead a woman made whole for the first time: through the willingness to ask the hardest questions of, and ultimately grant forgiveness to, the most important person in her life herself. Lisa Duggan