Missing Nora Ephron: Let Us Count the Ways

The death at 71 of Nora Ephron, the screenwriter/director/wit/novelist, was surprising, not only for its suddenness (although, by thanking her doctors in her last book should have given us a hint), but for the outpouring of love and regret from the various aspects of the blogosphere I frequent.

Book sites, cultural sites, political sites: I kept finding people who wanted to share their memories, as well as her best lines.

It seems that Nora Ephron was one of those people who was responsible for a lot of things you absorbed without actually giving her credit for it. I had read “Heartburn” — her fictional account of the collapse of her marriage to Carl Bernstein — so many years ago that I can’t remember why. Except that I remembered her great lines, spoken during tragedy, and her recipes.

Of course, “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally” set the bar for what a rom-com can do, and show that serious issues can be discussed amid the conventions of the genre, without weighing it down.

(There’s even a Harrisburg angle. She wrote and directed the screenplay for “Lucky Numbers,” a John Travolta vehicle about the attempt to defraud the Pennsylvania lottery.)

Some people we miss without even realizing they were there. We know them by their works, and given today’s Z-list celebrities that drive so much of the common culture, I’d rather have that.

Anyway, here’s some more ways to remember Nora Ephron:

* The New York Times followed up on its usual fine obituary — I had forgotten that she directed “Julie & Julia” in 2009, now a lifetime ago — with John Williams’ article on “The Queen of Quips.”

Worth noting: Although she wrote in “Heartburn” that “Let’s face it, everyone is the one person on earth you shouldn’t get involved with.” She found so much happiness with her third husband, the “Wiseguy” author Nicholas Pileggi, that her contribution to the six-word memoir meme was “Secret of life: Marry an Italian.” (Since I just read “Paris in Love,” I have to add that Eloisha James obviously feels the same way.)

* From Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine, links to 5 Unforgettable Movie Scenes and quotes by Ephron on “Women, Love, Happiness, Reading, Life and Death.”

* Maggie Galehouse gives us a two-minute clip of Ephron at the AFI, complimenting and poking fun at Meryl Streep at the same time. (I’m serious: I’m watching this now, and her deadpan delivery is a great lesson in composure and comedy.)

* Roger Simon offers his memories of Nora, but mostly reflects on the part of getting old that truly sucks, when more and more of your contemporaries pass on.

* Author Tod Goldberg, who introduced me to the word “fucktard” when not writing books like “Other Resort Cities,” and the “Burn Notice” tie-ins, keeps it classy:

* And The New Yorker gives us a wonderful post on Ephron as “Everyone’s Arch and Insightful New Best Friend.”

UPDATE: I missed this the first time around, but it’s a lovely essay by Alessandra Stanley: Nora Ephron’s Hollywood Ending.” Great summation of a brilliant career.