Withering Glance: The Nora Ephron fan club

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 22, 2013 - 2:08 PM
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FILE - This Nov. 3, 2010 file photo shows author, screenwriter and director Nora Ephron at her home in New York. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf confirmed Tuesday, June 26, 2012, that author and filmmaker Nora Ephron died Tuesday of leukemia in New York. She was 71.

Photo: Charles Sykes, Associated Press - Ap

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Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

 

CP: It’s the year of our Lord 1996 and you’re graduating from Wellesley College.

 

RN: I have told you, over and over. My Seven Sisters alter ego went to Smith.

 

CP: But if you had graduated from the school that year, Nora Ephron would’ve been your commencement speaker. As in, love her.

 

RN: New York City needs to erect a monument to her, pronto. If the city can host a statue of Vladimir Lenin on the Lower East Side, it can certainly find room for a bronze or marble likeness of the late, incomparable Ms. Ephron, preferably somewhere near the Apthorp, her longtime Upper West Side apartment building.

 

CP: Among other things, Ephron reminded the graduating seniors and their families to “look at the parts the Oscar-nominated actresses played this year: hooker, hooker, hooker, hooker and nun.” Woman knew how to work a punch line.

 

RN: When the three-time Oscar nominee died last year, the world also lost an exceptional food writer. Starting with “Heartburn,” her scathingly funny, thinly veiled account (she makes herself a cookbook author) of her marriage to and divorce from journalist Carl Bernstein. It’s one of the great comic novels of all time and perhaps the most scorched-earth example of celebrity revenge, ever.

 

CP: “The Most of Nora Ephron,” just issued, should be alongside the night cream on every bedside table in America, IMHO.

 

RN: Agreed. I was thrilled to see that the anthology includes her brilliant 1973 essay on the Pillsbury Bake-Off. “All I could think about was a steak,” she deadpanned.

 

CP: Who’d you rather read, reporting from a national political convention — crusty old misogynist Norman Mailer, or delightful/insightful Ephron? Writing for Esquire about the 1972 Democratic confab, Ephron expertly appraised the schism between feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. She was to the magazine piece as Muhammad Ali was to boxing: She floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

 

RN: No one is effortlessly funny, but Nora Ephron made you believe she was. In her late-career “What I Will Miss” essay, which is a list of just that, she begins with, “My kids, Nick [her husband], Spring, Fall, Waffles.” The next line reads, “The concept of waffles.” And on her “What I Won’t Miss” list, the 10th and 11th items made me laugh out loud. No 10: “Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in Creationism.” No 11: “Polls.”

 

CP: Who can disagree with her tart observation about one of the many indignities of aging? “If your elbows faced forward, you’d kill yourself.”

 

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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