Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections, by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron is a funny woman; in I Remember Nothing she once again brings her wit to the subject of aging (she can't remember things or people--one day she didn't recognize her sister when her sister approached her, arms outstretched, in a mall) and some of what she does remember about her earlier life. She also rants on subjects as diverse as egg-white omelets, e-mail, and the ubiquity of Thomas Friedman.

Some of my favorite pieces:

In "Journalism: A Love Story," she describes what it was like to start at Newsweek in 1962 when male college grads were reporters and female grads worked in the mailroom; happily, she found a journalistic "home" (the New York Post) where women were given greater opportunities. She loved journalism: "I loved the city room. I loved the pack. I loved smoking and drinking scotch and playing dollar poker. I didn't know much about anything, and I was in a profession where you didn't have to. I loved the speed. I loved the deadlines. I loved that you wrapped the fish."

"Christmas Dinner" is indeed about a meal, but it's also about what happens when the glue holding a group of friends together dies and they try to continue on without her--things don't go well for Ephron's group because Ruthie "was the thing that gave us the illusion that we were a family, she was the mother who loved us all so much that we loved one another, she was the spirit of Christmas. Now we were a group of raging siblings; her death had released us all to be the worst possible versions of ourselves." It's funny and sad and ends with the recipe for Ruthie's Bread and Butter Pudding--her contribution to the annual dinner.

Ephron once chronicled the story of her divorce from journalist Carl Bernstein in a humorous novel. In "The D Word," she revisits that era (and her earlier first divorce), admitting that the break-up was far from funny at the time. The calls divorce the "slice of anger in the pie of your brain"--ah, yes!

She ends the book with lists of "What I Won't Miss" and "What I Will Miss"--fun and a challenge to get rid of the things on our own "won't miss" lists and find room for more of the "will miss" list. Like the lists, I Remember Nothing is a quick and rewarding read.

Favorite passage (in addition to those quoted above):
...every time one of my friend says to me, "Everything happens for a reason," I would like to smack her.

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