Wednesday, June 27, 2012


The first day I did not think it was funny. I didn't think it was funny the third day either, but I managed to make a little joke about it. "The most unfair thing about this whole business," I said, "is that I can't even date." Well, you had to be there, as they say, because when I put it down on paper it doesn't sound funny. But what made it funny (trust me) is the word 'date,' which when you say it out loud at the end of a sentence has a wonderful teenage quality, and since I am not a teenager (okay, I'm thirty-eight), and since the reason I was hardly in a position to date on first learning that my second husband had taken a lover was that I was seven months pregnant, I got a laugh on it... 

So begins Nora Ephron's book Heartburn. I read the book before I saw the movie. In fact, when I saw the previews for the 1986 movie, I decided to read the book first. After all these years, and after reading hundreds of books, that beginning remains the best beginning I have ever read. 

"Heartburn" was based on her marriage to Carl Bernstein, whom she described in the book as a man  "capable of having sex with a Venetian blind."  (I've often wondered if that boosted Carl's love life?) Nora is Rachel Samstat in the book (played by Meryl Streep in the movie) and Carl is Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson).

When Rachel confided in her friend, Julie, that Mark was cheating on her, Julie tells Rachael how she coped with her own husband's infidelity: "Every time he got on a plane, I would imagine the plane crash, and the funeral . . . and flirting at the funeral, and how soon I could start dating after the funeral..." I wonder if that's a true quote from one of Nora's friends or another great bit of writing? 

The Net is loaded with Nora Ephron articles about her life. She was a staunch Leftie whose anti-Right jabs have generated lots of bitter comments from conservatives. I'm a conservative, and while I hate her politics, I still love her writing. She was a talented writer who has been one of my inspirations. I prefer to avoid and/or overlook her political barbs -- there aren't that many in what I've read -- and enjoy her stories. Nora Ephron was that good a writer.

My sympathies to her family, especially Nicholas Pileggi, with whom she found true happiness. I doubt he's thinking of flirting at the funeral.


Take Two...

In this interview, Nora Ephron talks about how her parents didn't want to hear her "sad story." They told her, "Everything is copy. Everything is material,"  which she incorporated later into "Heartburn":

Arthur Siegal (Richard Masur): What can I say? I've always been terrible with colors. It comes from having grown up with the single-row box of crayons, instead of the big box. If I had had the big box, I would now know taupe and cerise and ecru. Instead, all I know is burnt sienna.
 Mark Forman (Jack Nicholson): I think there's a column in this.
 Arthur: Oh, God, Forman, every time I say something, it ends up in your column.

Take Three...

John Podhortz remembers Nora with Nora Ephron: A great NY dameNora Ephron, who died last night at the age of 71, may have been the quintessential Manhattanite of her time. The island was her muse, and she its great romanticizer.


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