June 27, 2012

Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

In late 2006, I had a new baby, an emotional toddler, and a three-story, 4-foot-wide London rental house with a musty basement and mice the size of raccoons in the kitchen.  I did what so many before me had done; I tried my hand at writing.

My in-laws came to visit, and I showed them my first piece.  Strictly speaking, I was already a writer, having worked as a contract writer for the year before we moved to the UK.  But this was my first piece in my voice, my first attempt at authorship.  It was about the trials and tribulations of feeding my eldest, entitled “The Parents’ Survival Guide to Picky Eaters.”

After reading it, my mother-in-law looked at me and gave me the highest compliment a woman of her generation could possibly bestow: “You’re going to be the Nora Ephron of parenting.”

Talk about setting the bar high.

I’ve always wanted to be like Ephron.  My book, Cooking on the Edge of Insanity, is in no small part inspired by Heartburn.  Of course it is. Who wouldn’t be inspired by Ephron?  Who of my generation doesn’t periodically look at her husband and say, “Waiter, there is too much pepper in my paprikash?”  Tell me there’s not some equivalent of the wagon-wheel table in your house.

Nora Ephron made sentences that danced on a sword tip.  She was like Keats, bursting words on the back of your palate like grapes.  Comedy is timing, yes, but it is also getting the words just right, taking it just far enough but reining in the joke so the tension is perfectly balanced.  Ephron’s comedy had a light flavor but filled your cheeks with taste.

Rest well, Nora.

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4 Comments

  • Reply stacy June 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

    You’re right, you’re right, I KNOW you’re right. So incredibly sad…and missing you!

  • Reply christine June 27, 2012 at 4:30 am

    RIP, Nora.

  • Reply fiwa June 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I will forever love Nora Ephron for capturing exactly how I felt about the death of my father in the moving Hanging Up. I had a terrible relationship with my dad as an adult, but that movie made me feel like maybe it was ok to love him for what he was to me as a child. I’m sad to know she has died.

  • Reply Móna Wise June 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    We were almost neighbors, you & I. I moved back home to Ireland in 2007.
    Nora was an amazing funny wonderful woman and writer. I will treasure all the
    essays and stories of hers I have read. x

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