Don’t let the title mislead you. Much of Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing, now released in paperback, is about remembering many things.
Director, producer, and screenwriter of such films as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie & Julia, Ephron has also long been known for her wit as an essayist, her pieces routinely appearing in publications like the New Yorker, New York Times, Vogue, and, in recent years, The Huffington Post. (Some may also remember an early Ephron novel, Heartburn, based on her marriage to philandering Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame; it was later made into a movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.)
I Remember Nothing follows her successful and similarly packaged compilation of previously published essays about middle-aged angst, I Feel Bad About My Neck (2006), which is probably the better of the two anthologies. Thematically scattered, the subjects in Nothing range from Ephron’s beginnings in journalism to observations regarding momentous issues such as “No, I Do Not Want Another Bottle of Pellegrino,” and “My Life as a Meat Loaf,” about a recipe’s short-lived incarnation at a tony New York restaurant.
But the mini first and last chapters, (“I Remember Nothing” and “The O Word”), that are the whole point of this collection, are enjoyable and on the mark. In the former, the 70-year-old, doesn’t-look-it Ephron shrewdly notes that the “Senior Moment” has become the “Google Moment.” So true. You forget something, you immediately finger the iPhone or Blackberry or whatever, and (snap!), there’s your answer. Cuts the time for berating yourself for forgetting.
“The O Word” (O is for “old”) is a contemplative summing-up (“My memory, which I can still make jokes about, will be so dim that I will have to pretend I know what’s going on”). In between, the best (though out of place) piece is “Pentimento,” about her friendship with the playwright Lillian Hellman; Ephron paints a vivid picture of the woman with one of the more memorable countenances in American literature.
The book ends with “What I Won’t Miss”/”What I Will Miss,” a series of one-liners (e.e. cummings-style) that are a bit of a throw-away, but nevertheless an appropriately breezy conclusion to a light and amusingly astute read.