Ephron would have appreciated anecdote

August 03, 2012|Kate Coleman

Nora Ephron — journalist, essayist, novelist, blogger, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, producer, director, playwright, world-class cook and world-class friend — died June 26.

I am so sad.

In the month since Ephron's passing, I have spent hours on the Internet, reading and watching everything about her I could find. There were obituaries and columns, touching tributes by some of her legion of friends. (Eight hundred, including entertainment, media, politics and publishing luminaries, attended the invitation-only memorial service she'd planned herself.)

Along with remembrances, The New Yorker kindly posted links to "some of the many wonderful pieces that Ephron wrote for the magazine." I viewed trailers and clips of her movies "Sleepless in Seattle," "When Harry Met Sally," "You've Got Mail" and "Julie & Julia."

I didn't know her personally. I feel inadequate — a small-town schlump who doesn't have any business writing about such an amazing person.

But I am reassured by something author Nathan Englander wrote in the July 20 entry of his "Page-Turner" blog on

"I can hardly think of a writer who was better able to work without distance, to erase the space between writer and reader, to sound like her true self on the page. And it's this quality that makes for the intimacy that has the whole world sincerely mourning the loss of a friend-because to read her was to know, and rightly believe, that she was talking to you directly."


I first encountered Nora Ephron in "Heartburn," her 1983 novel inspired by the breakup of her marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein. It was so good I had to read everything else she'd written. I borrowed from the library her essay collections "Wallflower at the Orgy," "Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women" and "Scribble, Scribble: Notes on the Media."

That was years ago. Now I want to own them. I want to hold them. Kindle won't satisfy.

Nora Ephron was smart. She was wise. She was funny. I will miss having more of her wonderful work.

It is totally presumptuous of me to think she might have enjoyed this little true story:

I gave three friends Ephron's 2010 essay collection last Christmas. It's perfect for women of a "certain age." I haven't yet read it, but having thoroughly enjoyed her 2006 "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman," I trust her. Totally.

I knew my friend Sherry would appreciate the author's wit and wisdom, so I presented her with a copy of the latest book for her April birthday.

"Didn't you already give me this?" she asked.

"Did I?" I asked. "I don't think so."

"No," Sherry said. "Maybe Diana gave it to me."

Later, Sherry called her sister Diana to confirm that she had given her the book.

"I did?" Diana asked.

Of course, the title of that 2010 collection is "I Remember Nothing."

I'm keeping the book. It's on top of my stack.

Rest in peace, dear Nora.

Kate Coleman covers The Maryland Symphony and writes a monthly column for The Herald-Mail.

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