(originally reviewed back in July 6, 2012)
As I finished reading Melina Bellows USA Today article and Sally Quinn’s article for the Washington Post on filmmaker, writer, essayist, mother Nora Ephron, many of her friends have written about how they never knew Nora was suffering from acute myeloid leukemia.
Having read her 2010 book “I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections”, Nora would write about growing old but how life was changing for her as friends have died, how she was starting to forget things at 69 but most importantly, sharing experiences about her life now and memories of her life. A few of these experiences have made it into her films.
Nora Ephron was a woman who was full of life and was interested in learning about other people’s lives. For those that knew her, she was more interested in the personal stories of an individual rather than talk about herself. If anyone has watched an interview featuring Nora, you can always see her trying to probe and learn more about the individual, and as they try to deflect their answering about how much they love her work, she would deflect it back to know more about their life.
She was a person who embraced life, embraced love despite having had painful relationships and enduring two divorces before marring for the third time. After reading her last book “I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections”, written after she learned of her illness, Nora confronts her life of growing older, losing friends but the realization that she had a few good years remaining in her life. While most people who read the book wondered why was there a hint of sadness in this book… I can’t help but think that Nora knew that she didn’t have many years ahead and wanted to share her life with her readers. It’s not so much a book about forgetting but more about a book about remembering memories, enjoying life but also learning from the pain one experiences in life.
Nora talks about divorce, about wanting to make changes at a theater chain that she became a board member of, Pentimento, Christmas dinner with friends, e-mail and more. This was not meant to be anything like her 2006 book and if you read the plethora of reviews of people writing this book is not as good as that book, its understandable.
But now since her death, many are coming to realize that “I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections” was a book about a woman who has learned of her illness, knowing that she probably doesn’t have many years to live and wanting to share her memories about life, what she will remember about life and also the joys and pain of life in this one book. A book that was probably written as a way for family, friends and all of us to remember her as she looks back at her life, her accomplishments and wondering if she had only a short time to live, how would she live that life.
Ephron ends the book with what she won’t miss and what she will miss in life. Her kids, her husband Nick, spring, fall, waffles, bacon, a walk in the park, dinner with friends, to name a few. When Nora wrote about how she would like to live her last day, she said her perfect day would be to eat a frozen custard at Shake Shack, a walk in the park, followed by a Lactaid. Her perfect night is a good play and a dinner at Orso (although no garlic, or else she wouldn’t be able to sleep). Life is indeed uncertain but I really enjoyed how she handled life, whether or not she succeed or failed, she did it, she experienced it and would try to use those experiences to help others.
Is it is a short book? Yes. It’s a book that one will go through quickly in a few hours but I was entertained by it. I was grateful to Nora Ephron for writing this book and like her films, essays and novels before this, I was entertained by it. But also inspired by it as well.
Living life, learning new things…May it be writing a play, writing a book, making plum pudding that no one would eat on Christmas Day (but her) or playing multiple games of “Blitz Scrabble” or was it “Scrabble Blitz”, Nora was a woman that lived life the best way she can and touched the hearts of many people through her films, her screenplay, essays and novels. And if I ever make my way to the Monkey Bar, I will surely request Nora’s meatloaf or someday try cherries form Wisconsin or peppermint pie. And maybe even play a game of “Scrabble Blitz” or was it “Blitz Scrabble”?
Thank you Nora!