The last interview: Nora Ephron

NPR has a piece by Maureen Corrigan today about the release of a new series of books that include the final interviews of Ernest Hemingway, Philip K. Dick, and Nora Ephron:

As I was reading the Ephron collection, I kept thinking back to something Hemingway said in one of his interviews about his legendary editor, Maxwell Perkins: "I cared so much for Max Perkins that I have never been able to accept that he is dead." Yeah. It's a little startling, still, to see Ephron's face on the cover of a Last Interview paperback; I half hope to hear her voice from the Beyond assuring us fans, "Someday, this, [too], will be a story!"


Hello. I’m here. And by the way.

And one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.
— Nora Ephron

Reading lately

You've Got Mail vs. Sleepless in Seattle: Fight!  NY Mag went Ephron v. Ephron for Valentine's Day. I'm YGM forever, on aesthetics alone; SIS looks like it was shot through a filter of grandma's old nylons. Here's Margaret Lyons, agreeing with my general assessment if not my specific reasoning:

When I get my PhD in Ephronology, my thesis will be called “Slouchy Pants, Thick Belts, and the Knee-Length Skirt: Gendered Millennial Fashion and Kathleen Kelly’s Sense of Belonging.” I will TA a course in supporting casts called The Violin, The Violin: Social Affiliations and the Facets of Personhood, which will explore how the secondary characters in YGM and SIS each represent particular aspects of our main characters. You are also welcome to participate in the lecture series Call Me: Tracing the Differences Between Face-to-Face and Mediated Communication in the Nora Ephron Canon. Our rivals at the Nancy Meyers Institute of Cashmere Wraps are very jealous of all of this, of course. (New York Magazine)

A Meteor in the Russian Sky  Elif Batuman explains the role of “dash cams” in recording the Russian meteor blast, and examines the interstitial between the majestic and the mundane:

In “War and Peace” the comet stands for one of the novel’s central themes: the way world-historical forces interact with individual destinies. The ancient, cosmic power of the epic exercises its gravitational pull on the prose of the world. Every time a meteor comes close to the earth, we all think about the end of the world—but our internal soundtrack doesn’t turn off. We’re also thinking about pizza, or passing a slow tractor, or making a turn, and for a magical instant our lives seem to be in conversation with the stars. (The New Yorker)

Royal Bodies  Hilary Mantel has kicked up a real kerfuffle with her new piece on the Duchess of Cambridge, although both the article and the responding outcry seem to say more about us—the heaving masses—than it does about the interchangeable objects of our merciless gaze: 

When her pregnancy became public she had been visiting her old school, and had picked up a hockey stick and run a few paces for the camera. BBC News devoted a discussion to whether a pregnant woman could safely put on a turn of speed while wearing high heels. It is sad to think that intelligent people could devote themselves to this topic with earnest furrowings of the brow, but that’s what discourse about royals comes to: a compulsion to comment, a discourse empty of content, mouthed rather than spoken. And in the same way one is compelled to look at them: to ask what they are made of, and is their substance the same as ours. (London Review of Books)

Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Love, Loss, and What I Wore is adapted by Nora and Delia Ephron from a wee little picture book by Ilene Beckerman—for sale, perhaps, at your local Hallmark store, though it's far less sentimental than one might expect—interlaced with new material and at least one of Nora's previously published essays.

It's a tidy collection of clichés, to be sure, though what makes it clichéd is also what makes it universal: the horrors of the dressing room, the emptiness of a closet filled to bursting with nothing to wear, the neverending search for the perfect purse, the humiliation of bra fittings and prom dresses, the ubiquity of black, the war between heels and flats, the courage of boots, the judgment of mothers, the mercy of mothers, the unexpected arrival of one's period at the worst possible moment, what we wear to show off and what we wear to hide in. Breast cancer, childbirth, the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, falling in love, getting married, getting divorced, the steady shape of best friends and the fierce loyalty of sisters. The clichés also bring the surprises into sharper relief, as with a pair of stories relayed simultaneously by two women that weave unexpectedly together at the end. Alternately merry and moving, it's a bravura celebration not of what we wore so much as who we were when we wore it, the experiences recognizable even if the clothes are not.

This is a reading, not a staged play, thus tailor made for both actress and audience asides (the mention of Eileen Fisher drew both), and delivered by a rotating group of five performers, in this case ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s: Lisa Joyce, Mary Birdsong, Jane Lynch (JANE LYNCH!), the redoubtable Tyne Daly, and the equally redoubtable Mary Louise Wilson. Surely it will be playing in your own neighborhood one day soon; see it with a woman you treasure.