Ephron died yesterday of “pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia,” her son Jacob Bernstein told the New York Times in today’s edition.
But somehow, I always believed Nora would be. (She was just 71.)
She always brought a smile to my face. A giggle. Like another of my favourite resident New York writers, Calvin Trillin.
They’re both entirely different, but immeasurably engaging and amusing, at times laugh-out-loud funny because their writing in all its forms pricks our nerves, tickles us, speaks their truths with a visceral honesty that hits us where we live – in our heads and our hearts (and our tushes).
When Harry Met Sally will always remain for me a “must-see” and re-see. I never tire of it and its endlessly sharp wit, clever satire and pure joy. It sparkles with humour.
Ephronesque humour. Is there such a word? Not yet. But Nora deserves her own genre.
So, I’m sitting here, before drinking my first cup of coffee. The dogs are walked and watered and fed. I am not. I have lost my appetite.
“You’ve got to eat something,” Marty just said to me.
But, how? I feel so sad.
We’ve lost one of our most inspiring voices. We, women. Of “our age.”
Nora championed us, helped us see ourselves and feel good about ourselves, as we really are.
I acquired them, published in the 1960s and 1970s, while at university. They’re anthologies of Nora’s years writing for a variety of magazines, in particular Esquire, plus New York, The New York Times and Cosmopolitan.
For me, they were a reliable, easy and instant tonic when life overwhelmed me, when I was blue, a troubled student, lonely and awkward. Nora’s writing told me things about myself, then, that I wasn’t really conscious of and she helped me feel lighter and more at ease with my life.
Nora was like an older, wiser sister. She had a touch like no one else.
The Ephron touch, often compared to that of Dorothy Parker (1893-1963), another of my favourite New York writers – a poet, essayist, critic and short story writer – was quite different. Witty and wisecracking, her life was by no means easy. Ever. Her cynicism emanated from an earlier era. A tougher time for women, though she was extraordinarily progressive for her period.
Ephron broke ground that was not quite as hard for women, though there was nothing easy about Hollywood for women. Ephron trailblazed there as a writer and director.
She could make me laugh as much in her earlier books as she did with her two more recent ones: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman and I Remember Nothing. (They’ve disappeared from my library because I tend to lend books that give me pleasure to friends to spread the insights and the fun.)
The point is, her voice is gone. I miss it already.
Nora Ephron will always be remembered for these five words from the Katz’s Deli scene in When Harry Met Sally.
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
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Last reviewed: 27 Jun 2012