Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nora Ephron: Great Writing Remembered

Salute to Nora Ephron (1941-2012)

Nora Ephron wrote for the everyday woman, and yet she raised our own thoughts and words into a magical blend of wit, feminism, and intimacy. She achieved success as an essayist, journalist, screenwriter, director, novelist, and playwright. Ephron wrote with warmth and her extraordinary voice shone through. Her romantic comedies - When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail allowed characters to bemoan their own fates. She demonstrated that true romance is hilarious and crushing and melodramatic and preposterous all at once (EW 7/13/12)

Her Oscar nominated screemplay for Silkwood, co-written with Alice Arlen, could have been overwrought and self-righteous in its subject matter. Instead, it showed nuclear industry whistle-blower Karen Silkwood as a real person, flawed, and yet looking to do right. Her novel, Heartburn, was a thinly disguised tale of her marriage breakup to journalist Carl Bernstein. Heartbreak and adultery could never be funnier. When Harry Met Sally kicked romantic comedy scripts to a higher standard, and holds up today after twenty plus years. Julia and Julia was Ephron's final film as writer and director. Love, cooking, and Julia Child were combined to create one of Meryl Streep's finest performances and a worthy word bouillabaisse.

It seemed as if Nora Ephron wrote effortlessly. No wasted words, no overdramatic scenes. Just little insights, funny asides, and clever wordplay. It all added up to a great collection of work, memorable characters, and a secret desire to be her friend. You just knew dinner conversation with Nora would be sparkling, witty, and fun. With her passing, we've lost a valuable writer role model.
Here are snippets:

Above all, be the heroine in your life, not the victim - Wellesley College commencement address, 1996

The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? "Leave the gun, take the cannoli". Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You've Got Mail

Destiny is something we've invented because we can't stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental - Annie Reed (Meg Ryan) in Sleepless in Seattle

To spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible - Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) in When Harry Met Sally

In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind - Crazy Salad:Some Things About Women

I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance - Heartburn

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