Yesterday, the ipod hooked up to my car sound systems finished with an audiobook on “Wallander” and started a new audiobook on its own, Nora Ephron’s “I remember nothing” which is also narrated by her. It kept me chuckling all afternoon. I had listened to it before, but for some reason I must have jumped to the middle of the book back then since it started with a piece on food writers. But now, there it was, the beginning. “I remember nothing”. She wrote this book in her 60s and although very few people knew then that she was sick it was her farewell book. Her gleaning through the things she actually remembered from her life and the things she did not was as usual honest and witty.
Nora Ephron was never quite on my radar as a person when she was alive. I had seen, of course, all her icon movies from When Harry Met Sally, to You got mail……, to Silkwood, Heartburn and Julia and Julie. For some reason, I mixed her up with Ephraim Kishon, another (male!) Jewish comedic writer and film maker. I thought Nora was actually a man. Isn’t that terrible? …..that in your subconscious you think that such a prolific, successful, productive comedic writer and filmmaker must be a man, someone you heard about before and thought, it must be the same person. Obviously I also remember nothing.
Her telling the story of her life on “I remember nothing” makes this almost understandable. She talks about her college years at Wellesley, and then deciding to become a journalist. She gets hired at Newsweek in the beginning of the 60s, but, as she said, at that time, women did not become journalists. They were mail girls, clip girls, researchers who verified facts on stories written by male journalists. Due to a newspaper strike, when all things haywire and unorthodox for while, she was asked to write a parody on a New York Post daily column. First the NY Post wanted to sue, but then they hired her. And so, she became a journalist, in a time where all journalists were men.
She had indeed a very illustrious career, was married three times, had 2 kids, many successes, a few failures, and is very honestly reminiscing in the book, with her thoughtful, witty observations, because the inside is always different than the outside. I remember the story she tells about Christmas dinner, that they always got together with many friends, and kids, and cooked Christmas dinner together over the years. She was responsible for the dessert and made 2 cakes. Another friend also made several cakes. They were the dessert team. When the friend passed away, there was shuffling on the dessert routine, and she was asked to bring the potatoes. Only then she realized no one ever liked her cakes, and only liked the friend’s ones.
Her Six Stage of Email is also a classic.
Nora, thank you for talking to me in car every day and making me laugh about the idiosyncrasies of life.