Nora Ephron Contemplates Mind and Body

Nora Ephron—author, screenwriter, director, blogger, and seriously funny person—was in the spotlight at “Talking Volumes” in St. Paul Wednesday night, here to promote her new book, I Remember Nothing.  I took my eighty-year-old mother to the event knowing that she would enjoy hearing Ephron make fun of pretty serious subjects—aging and memory loss. Also, I figured that between my mother and I, we could later remember at least parts of what was said.

Actually, my memory of reading Ephron’s work goes back to the early 80’s when I read a collection of her writing in a book called Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women. In that book, she laments that she’s not exactly a full-figure gal in a hilarious piece called “A Few Words About Breasts:”

Ultimately, I resigned myself to a bad toss and began to wear padded bras.  I think about them now, think about all those years in high school I went around in them, my three padded bras, every single one of them with different-sized breasts.  Each time I changed bras I changed sizes: one week nice perky put not too obtrusive breasts, the next medium-sized slightly pointy ones, the next week knockers, true knockers; all the time, whatever size I was, carrying around this rubberized appendage on my chest that occasionally crashed into a wall and was poked inward and had to be poked outward—I think about all that and wonder how anyone kept a straight face through it. …

Over the years, while not writing and directing films such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia, Ephron has moved progressively upward as she considered her life and her body..  A few years ago she lamented, I Feel Bad About My Neck. Now, in I Remember Nothing, she discusses not only what she can’t remember, but also the physical trials of aging such as that little bald spot forming on the back of her head that she calls an “Aruba” comparing it to that island, windswept and bare.

The New York Times called I Remember Nothing “fluffy and companionable, a nifty airport read.” I probably wouldn’t recommend it for a book club read, unless you pair it with some other book that revolves around similar topics.  A fluffy and companionable discussion of aging would provide a refreshing contrast to the youth and beauty obsessed main character Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example.

Ephron, now in her late sixties, looks so good in her skinny leather pants she would make a twenty-year-old jealous.  She’s happy when she can wear a turtleneck and has a great hair stylist to camouflage the Aruba. Yet, what’s most inspiring is her attitude about it all, so unlike Dorian Gray.  Her motto: Get Over It.

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