A friend of mine recently recently recommended Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. It’s a great book (lots of “content” though so you’ll definitely want earphones if you’re listening to the audio). Brodesser-Akner used to work for GQ, so it’s like reading a really long GQ article. Her authorial voice reminded me of Nora Ephron, so while I absolutely recommend Fleishman is in Trouble, this month I thought I’d focus on the late Nora Ephron because she was the pioneer. She was a one-of-a-kind, authentic, witty woman with a razor-sharp intellect. Her work represents a shift in writing from the female perspective.
Nora Ephron is the pen behind the films Julie & Julia, Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally. If you’re a theatre buff, you’ll recognize her plays Love, Loss and What I Wore (co-written with her sister Delia Ephron, based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Ilene Beckerman), Imaginary Friends and Lucky Guy (which earned her a Tony nomination). She wrote a number of books as well, including I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, and this month’s book club pick, Heartburn.
Yes, this is the same Heartburn that inspired the 1986 film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. It’s Ephron’s first novel and it’s loosely inspired by her own life. It’s not a memoir but like the protagonist, Rachel, Ephron was also seven months pregnant when she discovered her husband was having an affair.
Like the artist she was, she turned this painful time into a story. Whereas her predecessors would have created a melodrama with a victimized heroine, Ephron used humour and charm to give voice to an issue women all over the world have dealt with. She hasn’t made a joke of marital infidelity. Instead, she chose a point of view that enabled her protagonist to retain her dignity, and one that made readers sit up and listen.
It’s not a long book, and it’s not a difficult read. Nora Ephron is operating at such a high level, that the craft behind her stories is invisible. She makes it look effortless.
Oh yes, I must also mention that Heartburn has some terrific recipes in it. I’ve decided that this summer I’ll finally make Rachel’s famous vinaigrette and I’ve been craving her crispy potatoes ever since re-reading this story in preparation for this month’s book club.
Happy reading, and happy eating!
Available in print, digital and audio versions. Visit your local library or click here to buy the ebook. If your library doesn’t carry this book, ask them to order it.
Meryl Streep reads the audiobook. Need I say more?