I Miss Nora Ephron
Recently a colleague mentioned he and his wife were moving from the house where they raised their family to a smaller empty-nester house. It recalled the seminal Nora Ephron piece in The New Yorker where she wrote about when she lived in the landmark apartment building in Manhattan – the Apthorp and her decision to eventually leave it.
In this masterful piece Moving On (The New Yorker, June 5, 2006) she was able to convince the reader to feel empathy and compassion for someone in a rent controlled, five-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Westside. That was just part of the magic that was Nora.
It could be that much of her work resonated with me as someone from When Sally Met Harry generation and then a New Yorker to boot. And while many still consider the Carnegie Deli scene as one of her career trademarks, and it is, I prefer the scene where Bruno Kirby, Carrie Fisher, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan go on a double date. And while there is a long list of great lines that Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan exchanged my favorite was delivered by Bruno Kirby’s character Jess saying, “No one has ever quoted me back to me before.” That was classic Ephron.
Through the magic of the internet we have access to an enormous catalog of Ephron’s work which goes beyond her filmography and writing to include some precious podcasts.
Among my favorite writers, and producers, in addition to Ephron, are Aaron Sorkin, Leonard Goldberg. But neither Sorkin or Goldberg, while both tremendously gifted, can capture the nuance and humor of a relationship like Ephron. After all, who among us would ever put to paper a treatise entitled I Feel Bad About My Neck but Nora.
After working continuously for thirty-five years last year I had my first break from full-time and more accurately from non-stop work. I transitioned from the position of Chairman and CEO of wireless software company to the role of only Chairman. Don’t let anyone ever tell you the Chairman position is a full-time, five-day-a-week job — it isn’t. What this break (which has now passed as I am once again at the reins of a tech company) afforded me was the time to write two novels. They are techno-thrillers more in the vein of Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler and Stephen Coonts than Ephron. But as I wrote both novels I couldn’t help adding some Ephron-esque touches in the characters and dialogue.
It is said that music has the ability to transport you. You hear a song and in a blink of an eye you’re taken back to a time or event. Good writing can do that too. So, when Ephron wrote about her Manhattan apartment and subtitled it A love story you knew that while you were about to be taken into the harsh world that is New York City real-estate it would be from a wonderful Ephron perspective. Only Nora could cast “key money” as a sub character in a romance.
These are only a few reasons why I miss Nora. I miss her wit, perspective, and courage to take on some of the most gut-wrenching aspects of life and bring a unique view and one that almost always wound making you smile.
Every time I have a slice of pie I think of Nora.