'I Remember Nothing' is memorable

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2011

“I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections,” by Nora Ephron. Knopf. 2010. 137 pp. $22.95.
True story: I read “I Remember Nothing” by Nora Ephron in one sitting. I laughed out loud (lol) and talked back to her (in my head).
The book was so right about so many things, so funny.
Then I forgot what was in it.
Which just goes to prove her point about memory: “I used to think my problem was that my disk was full; now I’m forced to conclude that the opposite is true: it’s becoming empty.”
So, I sat down with it again, and laughed out loud (lol) all over. And I did remember it. But it was fun to laugh again. I may keep it around to re-read when I need a chuckle.
Ephron wrote the screenplays for such hits as “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally …” and “Silkwood.”
Her parents were “in the business” — the movie business, too, so she has met a lot of famous people, done interesting things and honed her craft.
So why can’t she remember meeting Eleanor Roosevelt in 1961 while on her summer internship in the Kennedy White House?
She has some good reasons for other lapses: “I went to stand in front of the White House the night Nixon resigned and here’s what I have to tell you about it: my wallet was stolen.”
It may be you have to be of a certain age to relate to this. Many of us are already there. Ephron writes: “I have not yet reached the nadir of old age, the Land of the Anecdote, but I’m approaching it.”
My next favorite, naturally, is “Journalism: A Love Story.” Ephron abandoned journalism to go Hollywood, but she earned her chaps. She started as a “mail girl” at Newsweek, making $55 a week in 1962.
Then she was promoted to clipper. At her highest level, she was a researcher, also known as a “fact-checker.” No woman would ever get a reporting job at Newsweek in the 1960s.
Her first writing job came at the New York Post, where she actually learned how to write.
People nostalgic for the old days of journalism — smoke filled rooms, hard-nosed reporters, clacking typewriters — will find it here.
“In my first year there, I learned how to write, which I barely knew when I began.
“…The Post had a bare-bones staff, but more women worked there than worked at all the other New York papers combined.”
Nora Ephron and her sister Delia have written many movie scripts, books and magazine pieces. I remember Nora’s book, “Heartburn” from years ago. I got my vinaigrette recipe from that book.
Here she offers her egg salad recipe: “boil eighteen eggs, peel them, and send six of the egg whites to friends in California who persist in thinking that egg whites matter in any way. Chop the remaining twelve eggs and six yolks coarsely with a knife, and add Hellman’s mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.”
An opinionated egg salad.
Here’s another good piece, “Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again.”
Among them:
“Journalists sometimes get things wrong.”
“Howard Stern is apparently very nice in person.”
“Larry King has never read a book.”
Ephron feels bad about Teflon; she wants salt and pepper back on restaurant tables —hold the giant peppermill; she was enamored of Lillian Hellman until they became friends and Hellman wanted constant praise and approval.
She talks about e-mail and her various flops in publishing and movies. She lets us in on the drama of Christmas dinner and who gets to bring what.
Another short tour-de-force is “The O Word,” a story about being old, feeling old. And then two simple lists, “What I Won’t Miss” — “Bras” “Small print” and “What I Will Miss” — “My kids,” “Waffles” “Taking a bath” “Pie.”
Sure, this little book has no earth-shaking revelations or deep insights, but it’s funny and wise, like Ephron, and good enough to pick up again once you’ve forgotten you read it.