Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron

Dick Cavett introduced me to Nora Ephron.

No, not in person -- but thanks for the thought.

Ephron appeared on Cavett's ABC show, back in the '60s, I think. She had just published "Wallflower at the Orgy."

Although I was perhaps too young and unsophisticated to understand all the humor, I was smart enough to realize that this deadpan, low-key lady was someone special, someone who was trying to be amusing without, well, trying to be amusing.

I heard more about her on and off within the next decade as she published two more books, both collections of articles: "Crazy Salad" and "Scribble Scribble." I used to own a copy of "Scribble Scribble," and it was one of the few books I could pick up and enjoy every few years. It was impossible for her to write badly about anything -- I could follow her style anywhere.

I liked her essay on Brendan Gill's "Here at the New Yorker" the best. Gill's pompous book -- his ego alone would have given Macy's balloon handlers the challenge of their lives -- was made-to-order for her.

When she became a successful movie director and screenwriter, I was happy for her but not for me -- Hollywood's gain was a nonfiction lover's loss.

(Her parents, Phoebe and Henry Ephron, were also screenwriters, and when I heard that Nora Ephron was gravely ill I couldn't help remembering that she once wrote about being at her mother's deathbed and that her mother told her to take notes, on the theory that "everything is copy.")

In recent years I was happy to see that Ephron was writing books again, and her parody of Stieg Larsson in The New Yorker a couple of years ago did me the considerable favor of being so hilarious that I could no longer feel guilty about not finishing "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

For that, and so many other things, I will always be grateful to her.


Judy Berman said...

Enjoyed this reflection on Nora Ephron. In the past week, I've read 2 1/2 of her books. From your comments, "Scribble, Scrabble" sounds intriguing. I'll check it out.

Mark Murphy said...


(The title, though, is "Scribble Scribble." Wish I could find my copy.)