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I Feel Bad About Nora Ephron

June 28, 2012

Like so many people, I was saddened to hear the news that writer and director Nora Ephron passed away this week. Not only is her death a loss to the written word, it’s also a loss to women everywhere who aspire to use words to tell stories, make people laugh, and turn dark moments into lighter ones.

Those of you not familiar with the name Nora Ephron are almost certainly familiar with her work. She was the scribe behind such romantic comedies as When Harry met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and most recently, Julie & Julia. These are some of my favorites movies that I have been known to watch over and over again (much to Bryan’s chagrin). But I can’t help it — every time I see Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan almost coming together on that Seattle street, I am hooked.

While some argue that these movies are “chick flicks” – and yes, I can see that — if you listen closely to all of Nora’s female protagonists, they are strong women with the brain and will to make something happen. I can’t help but think Nora was instilling her feminist beliefs in her characters, which is why her female protagonists were so relatable and a joy for us women to watch.

Nora paved the way for all of us female writers and bloggers. She started her career as a journalist, wrote personal essays and memoirs, blogged and considered herself a foodie. Is this all sounding familiar? I can imagine that many of us writers envisioned ourselves penning a screenplay a la Nora Eprhon-style.

If we step back and look at her amazing writing, dialogue and words, chances are we’ve all been inspired by Nora in one way or another. Most recently I found myself identifying with the Kathleen Kelly character in You’ve Got Mail. There’s an early scene in the movie where she says the following as she contemplates her life.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Although I’d seen Mail countless times before, this time, it was my voice I heard as Kathleen uttered those lines. This same sentiment went through my head every day as I struggled with the decision to leave my full-time, stable job for the freelance career I have now. Like Kathleen, I wanted to be brave.

Finally, I’m saddened because I feel the world has lost a great writer. And as someone who personally uses words to improve my own life, I’m sad that a great voice like Nora Ephron’s will no longer be heard through new dialogue and books.

So to honor Nora’s memory, this weekend I will watch When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. I’ll have my own tribute to Nora Ephron … even if it means my husband will roll his eyes when he, once again, hears the AOL-bot say, “You’ve got mail.”

Oh well, he can learn to live with it!

Kathleen Kelly (You’ve Got Mail) writing in solitude at her desk at night. I can SO relate!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2012 1:29 am

    I know that they considered her movies chick flicks. Why don’t they consider serious issue movies starring George Clooney “guy flicks?” What I’ll miss about Nora’s work is that she consistently gave voice to women. There are random movies out there that do it, but where do we see a woman in films offer such a range of females, from Silkwood to You’ve Got Mail.

  2. June 28, 2012 1:57 am

    I think my favorite is still When Harry Met Sally. It’s a bit dated now and some of the lines are annoying but it’s still so romantic and funny, with a great score played by Harry Connick, Jr, and great scenes of New York City. Definitely a lost light, and way too young.

  3. June 28, 2012 2:47 am

    We just watched You’ve Got Mail for the first time — it has some great dialogue. But my hands down favorite is Julie and Julia. Wow, she was one amazing writer; what a legacy, and definitely an inspiration. I would not agree that her movies chick flicks, however. Maybe not for everyone, but I think they’re solid mainstream movies. And her writing was phenomenal, agreed, a wonderful role model!

  4. June 28, 2012 6:07 am

    I love your idea of a Nora Ephron marathon to celebrate her achievements. I’m with you.

  5. June 28, 2012 6:33 am

    I completely agree — a very sad day for journalism, movies, and women’s voices. What a great role model she was. Definitely time to watch When Harry Met Sally again!

  6. June 28, 2012 7:07 am

    loved her movies, very nice post!

  7. Lorena permalink
    June 28, 2012 8:30 am

    I’ve read a lot of tributes to Nora Ephron this week and I think yours and the NPR Monkey See blog post are my favorites. Her passing has re-inspired me to start writing fiction again — I’m sure many other women will do the same — and I’m getting myself in the right frame of mind by reading “Bird by Bird.”

    Enjoy the movie marathon, no matter how much Bryan grumbles!

  8. June 28, 2012 9:26 am

    “When Harry met Sally” was one of the first movies I watched and understood (ESL) and now 20 years later it’s still one of my favorite movie.

  9. June 28, 2012 9:28 am

    Excellent tribute! Nora Ephron’s movies are timeless and like you, I can watch them over and over again. The female leads are all so relatable. Quirky, funny and smart. The same characteristics I would strive for in myself. She will be deeply missed in a world full of testosterone writing (ie. superhero, sci fi flicks that seem to be taking over). I’ll miss her sensitivity. Maybe Oprah will rerun her interview with Nora…on OWN. I would tune in.

  10. June 29, 2012 12:02 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, so sad about her passing. Someday, I would love to live in the apartment “Kathleen Kelley” lived in in the movie, “You’ve got mail.” Delicious.

    on a totally different note, I blogged about a 4th of July treat today that I think you & Sophie would enjoy making (and eating!).

    Wonderful post, MJ

  11. July 2, 2012 6:16 pm

    I felt sad about her death, too. I loved all those movies and have watched them many times. My husband likes them, too. One of the last books I read by her was one called something like, “I Feel Bed About My Neck.”. It was funny and poignant at the same time, as is all of her writing. Hate that her voice is stilled.

  12. July 12, 2012 7:15 am

    You hit the nail on the head. And I couldn’t believe the news when I heard. What a great loss! It’s so hard to write humor; she was a genius!

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