The Washington Post is reporting that Nora Ephron has died. I love Nora Ephron. I love When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. I love that she referenced Jane Austen and Julia Child’s memoirs in her books and movies, but also I love that she wrote about Bill Clinton, the popularity of the pepper grinder, and blonde highlights. I could read I Feel Bad About My Neck or I Remember Nothing over and over. I even quoted her essay “On Maintenance” in my MFA thesis: “Where haircolor is concerned, being blonde is practically a career.”
You’ve Got Mail
My favorite Ephron essay might be “On Rapture,” from I Feel Bad About My Neck, originally published on Oprah.com. This is exactly how I feel about books.
There’s something called the rapture of the deep, and it refers to what happens when a deep-sea diver spends too much time at the bottom of the ocean and can’t tell which way is up. When he surfaces he’s liable to have a condition called the bends, where the body can’t adapt to the oxygen levels in the atmosphere. All this happens to me when I resurface from a book. The book I’m currently resurfacing from—the one I mentioned at the beginning of this piece—is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. It’s about two men who create comic book characters—but it’s also about how artists create magical things from the events of everyday life…. I was almost dazed by the playfulness of the author and his ability to do something that has such a high degree of difficulty with such apparent ease. Chabon’s novel takes place in New York City in the 1940s, and though I finished reading it more than a week ago, I’m still there. I’m smoking Camels, and Salvador Dali is at a party in the next room. Eventually, I’ll have to start breathing the air in New York in 2002 again, but on the other hand, perhaps I won’t have to. I’ll find another book I love and disappear into it. Wish me luck.
Read more here.
The world is a little bit less wonderful in her absence.
PS: I love her parents’ writing, too; Henry & Phoebe Ephron wrote Desk Set, the Hepburn-Tracy film about corporate librarians. It’s lovely.