Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nora Ephron and Meryl Streep, A Great Match

I've been reading novel after novel that takes me to the dark side of the soul and needed a pick me up. What better than the newest audio version of Nora Ephron's classic Heartburn as read and interpreted by Meryl Streep. Oh, what a great, though wry, laugh. Kept me walking for hours!

OK, I'm sure that anyone who's ever been through a divorce believes that theirs was truly the worst, most heartbreaking, awful time there ever was. And when you're in the middle of it that may be true.  But most of us will reminisce and come to the conclusion that it was probably the best thing we ever did. No regrets, no recrimination, lessons learned.

But imagine if you will, that you're Nora, with a baby boy in diapers, seven months pregnant with her second, when the gossip swirling around Washington as to whom a certain woman has been having an affair with, comes right home to Nora's front door. D.C. is a very small town for a capitol city, and unless you're not in the LEAST political, you'll know that this Ephron novel was based not so loosely on the collapse of her marriage to political reporter and Watergate hero, Carl Bernstein.

If you've been there, you know the feeling. Anger doesn't even begin to surface until later, it's more the idea of being made to look a fool, every story - read lie - that you believed, every run, as Nora says, out for a pair of socks, every hint that you didn't pick up on, every trip out of town, every nuance of your relationship now has to be parsed in a completely different way. There's only one way through it and it relies on a heavy dose of friends and a huge helping of humor. Food and wine are always good.

There are many hilarious scenes but a few stand out. One of them involves Nora following Carl, known in the book as Mark, after he has promised never to see the despised woman Thelma again. Nora has just discovered that Mark recently purchased a ferociously expensive necklace from their favorite jeweler (who had "accidentally" spilled the beans) and she had not been the recipient.

 She arrives at Thelma's house, sneaks around the side to peer into a curtained window, trips over a wire and falls right on top of Thelma's husband who is also spying on the errant couple with an illegal wiretap set-up. Oh yes, this man was in an elevated position within our government. Will they never learn?

Nora Ephron's ability to write such real scenes, such honest human emotions, is a talent I envy. Her more recent books, I Feel Bad About My Neck, and I Remember Nothing, have given me great pleasure. And then, of course, there's the screenplays, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, proof positive that Ms. Ephron never lost her belief in love and romance.

 How did she do it? I'd guess it's the innate ability to take the most difficult circumstances that life can throw at you and turn them into humor. As long as we can be the butt of our own jokes, get the story out first and our way, we can assuage the anger, heartbreak, and disappointment inside. It also doesn't hurt to keep that old adage close to heart, "Living well is the best revenge."

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