I had not planned another posting for June until I read Nora Ephron’s obituary in last night’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Actually, my husband showed it to me or I would have missed it altogether. When I posted in Profiles last month for American Jewish History Month, I used a wonderful book called Great Jewish Women by Robert & Elinor Slater. I never posted all the names I wanted and Ephron would have been on that list as one of my favorite authors, screenwriters and directors. Sadly, now I have to say that she is one of my favorite non-living writers.
My love for Nora Ephron’s work started with her book Crazy Salad, short stories with which I identified strongly. Soon after that, in thelate 1970s, I wrote a note to her about my efforts to be a freelance writer and received a warm, personal, handwritten note back. Her encouraging words inspired me to continue writing.
Her movies and stories and books were sharp, and sophisticated, witty and funny, and as one article noted, “edgy.” Everyone is familiar with Meg Ryan’s display of how to fake an orgasm from When Harry Met Sally, the poignancy of Sleepless in Seattle in which she resurrects the movie An Affair to Remember, and her movie Heartburn about her marriage to Washington Post Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein (half of the famous duo Woodward & Bernstein). The Philadelphia Inquirer described Heartburn as evoking “simultaneous laughter and tears.” Very accurate! I remember reading a story in Crazy Salad in which she cried to her mother after breaking up with a boyfriend. Her mother told her to save this event for her writing, noting that “Everything is copy.” Heartburn was definite proof that she took her mother’s advice.
More recently, I enjoyed the movie Julie and Julia, which explored not only the young love of Julie Powell, author of the book by the same name, but also the mature love of Julia Child and her husband Paul. So the movie tackled both young love and old love, and Ephron seemed to have her pulse on both.
If you like the wittiness and sarcasm of Dorothy Parker, as I do, and the nostalgia of romance in our youth as demonstrated by many of Ephron’s movies and stories, then I recommend you Google Nora Ephron to read about her from the San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and others.
Almost forgot: In the Philadelphia Inquirer obit there was one mention of her Jewish background. The article said that Ephron liked to joke about the fact that “although she was raised Jewish, her religion was butter.” Typical Ehpron— irreverent, yet funny!
Last year read Julie Salamon’s excellent biography Wendy and the Boys about the “uncommon” life of playwright Wendy Wasserstein (another Jewish woman in the book Great Jewish Women), who died of cancer six years ago. I was very moved by her life story. The death on Tuesday of Nora Ephron at 71 has also touched me, and I will be exploring the books and stories she wrote that I never read to get the full impact of this incredibly creative woman of my generation. She frequently collaborated with her sisters Delia, Amy, and Hallie. I hope they will write her biography.