Ephron's trademark humor permeates book on growing old

  • Article by: LAURIE HERTZEL
  • Updated: November 13, 2010 - 1:44 PM

I Remember Nothing by Norah Ephron

It's Nora Ephron's sharp humor that draws readers -- primarily women readers of a certain age -- but it is her frank honesty that keeps us. In "I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections," essays published previously in the New York Times, Huffington Post and elsewhere, Ephron explores life on the cusp of old. At 69, she is not yet old, but she can see it looming, and it unnerves her.

She spends a lot of time looking back -- to her early years in journalism, when she was hired for the only magazine job a female college graduate could get: mail girl. To meeting Lillian Hellman (not very fondly) and Lillian Ross (even less fondly). She recalls her divorces, and she recalls the time she almost inherited a lot of money.

She writes about "senior moments" of forgetfulness. (She calls them "Google moments," because, she points out, you can often just look up the forgotten noun.) One time at the mall, she saw a vaguely familiar woman and wondered how she knew her. "And then she spoke, and I realized it was my sister Amy," Ephron writes. "She was the person I was meeting in the mall."

These essays are too funny to be wistful, but you can feel wistfulness hovering.

At some point, "I will be not just old, older, or oldish -- I will be really old," she writes. "I will be actively impaired by age: something will make it impossible for me to read, or speak, or hear what's being said, or eat what I want, or walk around the block. My memory, which I can still make jokes about, will be so dim that I will have to pretend I know what's going on."

She is talking about herself, but she is talking about the rest of us, too.

 

  • I REMEMBER NOTHING

    By: Nora Ephron.

    Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 135 pages, $22.95.

    Review: Funny, sharp and poignant, Ephron's recollections about her youth and musings on aging are just this side of wistful.

    Event: Talking Volumes, 7 p.m. Nov. 17, Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul, $20.

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