A few months ago, I was lucky enough spend a few hours with Nora Ephron at her home in Beverly Hills, for an interview that was published in The Believer’s latest film issue. We ate tangerines as she gamely answered my questions, even the most personal ones (especially the most personal ones.) We also talked a lot about the slog of writing, and I was relieved to find that even Nora Ephron found it to be a finicky, annoying, painful exercise – a series of palsied lurches, rather than an ecstatic glide to the finish line.
As our interview was wrapping up, I wondered if she’d ever been tempted by sloth, to maybe stop writing and laze around a little, enjoy her satsuma tree and her lovely, gentle husband without the threat of deadlines and proper five-act structures. She dismissed the idea, saying, “I’m a writer. And I’m going to be sitting there in that chair all day until they put me in the box.” I remember staring at her bright eyes and her glossy brown shag and thinking, “Well, that’s good, because this woman clearly has another twenty years before she’ll be anywhere near one of those.” So the news about her death yesterday felt inconceivable at first, and once it had sunk in, devastating.
I’ve spent the last day reading her articles and essays online, of which there are endless Google pages. I’ve laughed out loud in spite of myself at her perfect, absurd description of Steve Wynn accidentally jamming his elbow through a $139,000,000 Picasso, and at her perfect, wry quote about death, and how there’s nothing you can do about it, “Whether you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God.” And when I stopped laughing, I quietly thanked Nora Ephron, a writer who had the type of power that could provide a small, temporary antidote to the sadness of her of own passing. – Kathryn Borel