Guys. I just signed up for audible.com and I swear to buddha it’s effing amahzing. In an effort to increase my productivity, I decided I would start READING IN MY CAR and wow. Let me tell you. It has been a journey. Perhaps this is old news. After all, Audible has existed for hella years, we’re on like, the katrillionth model of the iPhone by now, and have I never heard of a podcast? It’s true, I am soooo 2000 and late to jump on the audiobook train. Regardless, I feel like I’m re-discovering the joy of reading books again after a year of poorly written and/or sexist feature scripts, TV pilots I almost lost faith in, and little else. The whole thing is pretty damn revolutionary, if you ask me.
To wit: Nora Ephron’s essays have completely captivated me. I recently finished listening to both Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women & Scribble Scribble: Notes on The Media, two compilations of Ephron’s essays written in the 1960’s and 70’s, while she was a columnist for Esquire Magazine and The New York Post. Before dipping my toes into the waters of Ephron, I’d always been ashamed to admit I hadn’t read her. I mean, I saw When Harry Met Sally, because DUH, but I hadn’t read her books. While her life as a screenwriter interested me, her ability to straddle the line between Screenwriter & Journalist/Essayist drew me in even more. Also, after she died Lena Dunham sang her praises. And I want to read everything Lena Dunham has read because maybe that would make me more like her, minus the gratuitous tattoos.
So. I dipped my toes into the Nora Ephron waters. And oh-so-happy was I. Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble covers everything from the Pillsbury Bake-Off – highlight of the year for many a Midwestern housewife in the early 70’s – to the marketing techniques behind vaginal deodorizing wipes and a device that was ACTUALLY SOLD to extract women’s periods. Ephron was a serious and involved feminist, whose relationship to the women’s movement was both complex and analytical. She discusses its strengths and weaknesses, the conflation of certain ideas and concepts (marriage, birth control, political secretary to Richard Nixon, Rose Byrne) with the movement, and her struggle to write what she believes to be true without harming or seeming to question the movement. Her thoughts are thorough, delivered with plenty of wit and charm, and, most notably, very well researched. A quick note about research: I hate it. I hate doing it. I hate formatting footnotes after I do it. I hate how long it takes. Alas, the importance I place on retention of facts (thank you, private school education and sporcle) makes research, for me, one of the most pressure-cooker activities I’ve ever experience. It’s definitely on my top 10 list of Least Pleasant Ways to Spend My Time, and it’s the reason I dropped my History minor in college.
Nora Ephron, on the other hand, loves research. It helps that she was a journalist at a time in which the word carried much more weight than it does today. She checked her facts and quoted her quotable sources correctly and I felt… envy. That being said, I felt no pressure to memorize. A good friend read the same book recently, and told me it took her a year to finish because she was trying to absorb it all, to know everything Nora knew. And my oh my are the essays laden with facts. Had I been reading in the traditional sense, I highly suspect I would have neither enjoyed nor finished this book. But listening? In traffic? To a sassy female narrator discussing themes and issues that remain relevant today, without any of the pressure to internalize it? I may have only gotten the gist, but the experience was goddamn LOVELY.
In conclusion: I recommend this collection, but I highly recommend this collection on audiobook, narrated by Kathe Mazur, on car rides to and from work. Give it a try. Nora is a role model and an inspiration: to read, to write, to make Borscht, and to make it big in the stock market.