In praise of Nora Ephron

nora bookI’ve just finished a sensational double collection of the late Nora Ephron’s writing, Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble: Some Things About Women & Notes on the Media. I loved her screenplays (I’ll have what she’s having!), but I didn’t realise she was such a prolific essayist and columnist as well. 

My generation has a complex relationship with the term ‘feminism’, but reading Nora’s account of the movement and the issues they’re addressing makes it all too clear that we still need ‘the F word’.

Like Caitlin Moran, she doesn’t adopt an unnecessarily strident tone or demand that battle lines be drawn, but through her keen observation and deliciously caustic wit, she makes her opinion clear and calmly beckons the reader over to her side of the table. She also provides fascinating examples that read like mini epics, ripe for Hollywoodisation – and which argue her case more persuasively than any polemic.

The media section is fascinating. It may not be exactly current (much of the collection dates back to the ’70s), but that means not only can we compare past journalistic culture to today’s, we can also see the origins of major trends like the cult of celebrity and confessional tell-all. While some things have changed (notably the decline of the all-powerful print magnates), others stay the same. But none will have escaped the laser focus of this warm, witty, breathtakingly intelligent woman.

I want to be Nora when I grow up.

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