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I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 9, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Reading these succinct, razor-sharp essays by veteran humorist (I Feel Bad About My Neck), novelist, and screenwriter-director Ephron is to be reminded that she cut her teeth as a New York Post writer in the 1960s, as she recounts in the most substantial selection here, "Journalism: A Love Story." Forthright, frequently wickedly backhanded, these essays cover the gamut of later-life observations (she is 69), from the dourly hilarious title essay about losing her memory, which asserts that her ubiquitous senior moment has now become the requisite Google moment, to several flimsy lists, such as "Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again," e.g., "Movies have no political effect whatsoever." Shorts such as the several "I Just Want to Say" pieces feature Ephron's trademark prickly contrariness and are stylistically digestible for the tabloids. Other essays delve into memories of fascinating people she knew, such as the Lillian Hellman of Pentimento, whom she adored until the older woman's egomania rubbed her the wrong way. Most winning, however, are her priceless reflections on her early life, such as growing up in Beverly Hills with her movie-people parents, and how being divorced shaped the bulk of her life, in "The D Word." There's an elegiac quality to many of these pieces, handled with wit and tenderness. (Nov.) (c)
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The legions of readers who loved I Feel Bad about My Neck (2006) will pounce on Ephron’s pithy new collection. A master of the jujitsu essay, Ephron leaves us breathless with rueful laughter. As the title suggests, she writes about the weird vagaries of memory as we age, although she is happy to report that the Senior Moment has become the Google Moment. Not that any gadget rescued her when she failed to recognize her own sister. But the truth is, Ephron remembers a lot. Take her stinging reminiscence of her entry into journalism at Newsweek in the early 1960s, when “girls,” no matter how well qualified, were never considered for reporter positions. An accomplished screenwriter (When Harry Met Sally . . . and Julie & Julia) in a family of screenwriters, Ephron looks further back to her Hollywood childhood and her mother’s struggles with alcohol. Whether she takes on bizarre hair problems, culinary disasters, an addiction to online Scrabble, the persistent pain of a divorce, or that mean old devil, age, Ephron is candid, self-deprecating, laser-smart, and hilarious. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Now a popular blogger in addition to everything else, Ephron hit it so big with her last best-seller, a 500,000 print run is planned for her latest. --Donna Seaman
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Some of Ms. Ephron's witticisms on aging: She uses the phrase "nice to see you" when she meets someone at a party, for instance, since "nice to meet you" may indicate a first encounter and she is afraid that she may have met the person previously. She has nothing but praise for Google since we can now quickly look up most anything including the title of a movie we cannot remember so that we don't appear as a stalk of celery. [my choice of vegetables, not hers.] She remembers that Ryan O'Neal a year or so ago admitted to having made a pass at his daughter whom he did not recognize at his longtime life partner's funeral-- I swear that I cannot for the life of me remember her name but she appeared on "Charlie's Angels" I believe. Shortly thereafter Ephron failed to recognize her own sister whom she was meeting at a mall. A good friend of mine not quite Ephron's golden age of 69 should not feel so bad then. She a few years ago at her father's wake did not recognize her first husband. Ephron used to think her disk was full. Now she realizes that it is becoming empty.
The chapter "The O Word" is just as hilarious. Ehpron on what happens in old age is unfortunately too accurate: "But then one day, your knee goes, or your shoulder, or your back, or your hip. Your hot flashes come to an end; things droop. Spots appear. Your cleavage looks like a peach pit. If your elbows faced forward, you would kill yourself. You're two inches shorter than you used to be. You're ten pounds fatter and you cannot lose a pound of it to save your soul. Your hands don't work as well as they once did and you can't open bottles, jars, wrappers, and especially those gadgets that are encased tightly in what seems to be molded Mylar. If you were stranded on a desert island and your food were sealed in plastic packaging you would starve to death."
Ephron concludes the book with things she won't miss-- two of my favorites are Joe Lieberman and Clarence Thomas-- and things she will: reading in bed, dinner with friends and Paris, to name three. In the chapter "Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised By Over and Over Again," two that bring to mind the LOL phrase that she admits to using on occasion in her chapter entitled "Addicted to L-U-V" or at least make you smile are (4) Beautiful young women sometimes marry ugly ,old rich men" and (16) Mary Matalin and James Carville are married."
The author also has opinions on egg-white omeletes-- down with them-- and meatloaf in her husband's restaurant-- she approves. Contrary to conventional wisdom that we have success from our failures (the chapter "Flops") she believes that "the main thing you fear from a failure is that it's entirely possible you will have another failure."
Not everything is a laugh a minute, however. Ephron looks back on her mother's alcoholism and includes a moving chapter-- one of the best in the book-- about her own early enchantment and friendship with Lillian Hellman and the reasons for her subsequent disillusionment with the crusty writer.
There are other things I liked about the book but they escape me right now.