Celebrity deaths never impacted me until the June 26 passing of beloved writer Nora Ephron. Most fans know Ephron from her female-focused film hits, including “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Julie and Julia,” and “When Harry Met Sally.”
And although I, too, covet those cinematic moments, it is Ephron’s writing that grabbed my heart and never quite let go.
The memory for me is crystal clear, burned on my brain like a literary brand. For months I had struggled with what kind of book I should write. Fiction fell flat. Could simple stories suffice?, I thought to myself on countless occasions.
My newspaper background meant I was trained (and so very much loved) the art of storytelling. Collecting information. Observing my surroundings. Discovering meaning. And try as I might, the words simply would not come.
Then, on a weekday whim, I visited a used book store. Hungry for something new, I paced up and down the aisles, plucking titles that grabbed my attention or authors whom I recognized. Walking toward the front of the store, I stumbled upon a stack of books that were deeply discounted. The three-dollar sale sticker certainly made painless my purchase of Ephron’s 2006 collection of essays I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. The book landed in my shopping bag along with a few other titles that, today, I am unable to recall.
A few days later – a Saturday afternoon – I found myself at home with not much to do. Pawing through my recent literary purchases, I picked up Ephron’s book and sat down on my plush living room couch. Within the first few essays in this delicious book, I found myself rolling, literally rolling, with laughter. Multiple passages were so acutely precise in their telling, the feelings behind womanhood so strikingly spot-on. My giggles and belly laughs turned to tears of joy, I kid you not, as I moved through the book. In the few short hours that passed like seconds, I concluded two things.
>> P.S. I am pleased as punch to join the COOP crew as one of its first contributors. Talk about a fun (and creative!) bunch.