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Book Excerpt: “Nora Ephron: A Biography”

Book Excerpt: “Nora Ephron: A Biography”


The next is excerpted from Kristin Marguerite Doidge’s “Nora Ephron: A Biography,” which is accessible now. Reprinted with permission from the writer, Chicago Assessment Press.

All roads result in Nora.

I’ve stated this many occasions through the years as I dug into the life and work of Nora Ephron—first as a graduate pupil, and later as a reporter. Once I first got here throughout a quote from Nora’s 1996 Wellesley graduation speech: “Don’t be frightened. You’ll be able to all the time change your thoughts. I do know: I’ve had 4 careers and three husbands,” I puzzled: how might this fascinating girl have been the identical one that wrote each the scathing novel “Heartburn” and the nice and cozy and earnest movie “Sleepless in Seattle”?

The reply? As her pricey pal and longtime collaborator, Dianne Dreyer stated to me, “She would all the time shock you.” Through the previous seven years of engaged on this e-book, a technique or one other, an inevitable connection to Nora would emerge: an actor or actress she’d labored with early on or who’d sought her recommendation or counsel, a author she’d mentored, a e-book or present she’d tailored or had finally impressed. (For some current examples, see such numerous productions because the hit AppleTV+ present “Ted Lasso,” Hulu’s “Solely Murders within the Constructing,” and HBO’s “Succession.”

However one of the vital “scrumptious” issues about writing a biography, as Nora may put it, is that you simply’re nonetheless residing your personal life proper alongside the particular person you’re learning, studying about, and writing about. As you alter, and develop and evolve, so too does your understanding of what that particular person went by means of in varied levels of her life, and the way she should have felt when she confronted choices each small and huge as a feminist, filmmaker, foodie, author, sister, daughter, spouse, and mom.

I found that new sources, tales, and supplies would emerge. Particulars turned extra clear, and on the similar time, by some means extra difficult. Embrace the mess and the problems, she’d as soon as stated, but in addition, search out pleasure within the simplicity of life’s biggest treasures: good books, good mates, good meals. Most of all, discover what makes you content and provides all of it you’ve bought.

What she present in husband Nick Pileggi was a real-life love story, and I believe she needed ladies (and males) to know that real love is on the market. And it’s doable their Sam Baldwin just isn’t a husband, however somewhat stunning kids who heat the home with their tales, music, or jokes, or sisters who fill your soul with reminiscences and communicate a language solely you perceive.

I used to be naïve and maybe ignorant sufficient to have the blind ambition essential to tackle a job of this magnitude. I approached it with the love, admiration, and demanding eye of what communications scholar Henry Jenkins calls an “aca-fan.” And I hope in doing so, I captured within the pages of this e-book a nuanced portrait of a lady who taught us the way to dwell—who reminded us to not take ourselves too critically, regardless of what number of punches life might throw at us.

So why does Nora Ephron nonetheless matter? As a result of she offers us hope.

The clever, self-described cynic was the one who helped us see that it’s by no means too late to go after your desires, or to alter path within the pursuit of reinvention: she was 32 when she bought her first column with Esquire, and she or he was 50 when she turned a movie director in an trade and an period that usually rewarded youth over expertise. Drawn to chef Julia Youngster’s work as a younger girl, she realized she, too, got here to be who she was later in life. (Youngster didn’t publish her e-book or get her first cooking present till she was 50 as nicely, and Julie Powell, the blogger who made up the opposite half of the biopic movie “Julie & Julia,” was 30 when she began running a blog about Youngster.)

As the author Meg Wolitzer so poignantly defined, Nora’s legacy lives on “as a result of within the nice speeding loneliness of the world, when a author’s voice makes you’re feeling befriended, you need extra of it even after the particular person is gone.”

Nora shared the identical nervousness about dying all of us do: she needed to have a “good dying” as a lot as she needed to have a very good life. She spoke about her pal having organized his file “Exit” on the pc, and the way he’d died in his sleep peacefully after residing a full life.

She as soon as stated that she hoped to die at 84 years previous, peacefully in her sleep, “after dinner at L’Ami Louis” in Paris. However Nora didn’t get that probability; at the least not at 84 years previous—however a full life, sure. As a lot as Nora had proven us the way to dwell, she additionally confirmed us the way to die.

“One of many stuff you uncover about dad and mom is that you simply study issues about them after they die,” her son Jacob stated at a 2019 discuss referred to as “All About Nora” on the TCM Pageant in Los Angeles. “[Things] that you simply didn’t learn about them once they had been alive. And that’s each unhappy and…”

“…And like a present,” actress and pal Rita Wilson added.

As you rewatch her movies, learn or reread her essays and articles, and think about her distinctive perspective, you may discover that many, if not all, roads value taking by some means lead again to Nora.

Nora referred to as on us to make a little bit hassle on behalf of girls; I hope this e-book will assist provoke us all to be a little bit braver. And to order a couple of dessert.


“Nora Ephron: A Biography” might be bought right here.

Kristin Marguerite Doidge is the writer of the brand new e-book “Nora Ephron: A Biography,” and an award-winning journalist, professor, and speaker primarily based in Los Angeles. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Marie Claire, FORTUNE, xoJane, Bustle, KCRW/NPR, Time Out Los Angeles, GOOD journal, ETOnline.com, GIRLBOSS, and the Los Angeles Enterprise Journal. Join together with her on Twitter @KMarguerite_USC.


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