The fabulous Nora Ephron wrote this at 69, two years before her premature death from complications from leukemia. It's a short book, a collection of anecdotes about her life, thoughts on things that annoy her and how it feels to be getting old. Although she doesn't mention her health, she alludes to it when she lists things that she will and won't miss after she passes on, and thanks her doctors at the end.
Nora is - was - a wonderful writer and she can tell stories that don't amount to much in such a way that you enjoy every moment of the telling. I especially enjoyed her thoughts about how your memory goes as you get older - how you start off thinking it's somewhat amusing that you can't locate the name of a movie you saw or a book that you read, but how you eventually start to feel disconnected from the life that you have lived because you can't remember huge chunks of it, even though some insignificant details stick insistently in your brain.
I liked this book. It's both funny and melancholy. It makes you think about small things that you don't usually think about and it makes me sad to think that this will be the last book she wrote.
Nora Ephron has written a very humorous book with which I agree. She makes fun of herself as she ages, and I think many of us can identify with her plight. As she says, her memory is akin to a disc, it is not full, it is empty.
'I Remember Nothing' is a small book but filled with some wisdom and observations that make it well worth the read. The first chapter is a take on the title, 'I Remember Nothing', and it appears that is true. She relates many of the instances she can remember where she forgot. The films, books and times that were filled with fun, but gosh, what was the name of that actor. We can relate, where are my keys and glasses? Nora copes with her forgetfulness by keeping a list of things she refuses to know about. I agree with The Kardashians, American Idol and the Bachelor. But, soccer and mojitos, no way. 'Who Are You' another chapter deals with people you can't remember. A silly chapter, really. I have no trouble telling someone I am sorry but I can't remember their first name. Nora goes through hoops, it seems, to disguise her forgetfulness. 'Journalism, A Love Story, is the reason to read this book. This is a love story of her profession, and she tells us about her first job at 'Newsweek' and her rise as a woman in the field of journalism. In-between she gives us a few stories of Philip Graham, Newsweek's owner and his difficulty with Bi-Polar Disorder. The life of a young woman working in 1960's New York City, hard liquor, no wine; no take-out and lots of swearing, but not the F word. She got a job at the New York Post and started writing by-lines, and she learned her craft. She then went on to writing for magazines and films. She married and divorced and remarried. She learned that she was correct, she loved journalism and it was right for her.
Nora talks about her alcoholic parents and in particular her mother, and how she held her mother up as an idol until her alcoholism took her away. The story of her mother and Lillian Ross is memorable and quite profound. The bits and pieces of her life give us a glimpse into the soul of Nora Ephron, and she doesn't really want to give much away. She talks about diets, Teflon, her bald spot, the meatloaf named after her. The Christmas dinners with friends of twenty two years, and the memories and the people she loves. Divorce and how it became who she was for a time, and then how, she is getting old, not older but old. Times change, the children leave, it is just the two of you and how you cope, and then finally, the list of things she won't miss: emails, vacuum cleaners, mammograms, and the things she will miss, bacon, waffles, her kids, her friends- a much longer list than any of the others.
'I Remember Nothing' is a love story of growing old and older, a time that many of us will face, and Nora Ephron faces old age with grace and humor. And, I like it. I want to grow old just like her. Too much to do and see, and so little tme.
Recommended. prisrob 11-09-10
on 12 July 2012
This is delightful.
It's a short book, full (mainly) of short anecdotes and reflections on events in Nora Ephron's life. Sometimes, these take the form of full-on autobiographical anecdotes, such as her story of how she got into journalism. Others are just straight-out opinions, such as her six stages of her relationship with email. All are joyously funny; some are also quite touching. The whole gives a real sense of Ephron as a person. And the quality of the writing throughout is just sublime.
Some other reviewers have complained about a degree of "bitchiness" in this book - and it's true to say that Ephron's opinions aren't universally positive about everything. But I read these opinions as honestly held, and found them endearing.
There are glorious descriptions of some of Ephron's reactions to the absurdity of celebrity, and the challenges of ageing: from how she reacts to finding a dish named after her in a restaurant, to coping with an inability to remember names.
There's a chapter in this book that deals with Ephron's "flops": her films and plays that have failed to become financial successes. She describes with honesty how this feels, how it can never quite be forgotten, and how the failures stayed with her far longer than the successes. I'm someone who generally advocates embracing and learning from failure, and this chapter really made me view this in a different way. In a creative context, "success" and "failure" are difficult to define: Ephron considers her finest play to be one that commercially flopped. How can one learn from failure when, in the liberal arts, failure is very subjective? I know that's probably obvious to most people, but this chapter really made a mark on me as it helped me realise this for the first time, so I thought that was worth mentioning in my review!
I know that some have been irritated by the brevity of this book. It is very short. Yet I find it difficult to criticise something just because it's brief: this is brief but excellent, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.