One of the first essay books I read was First You Have to Row A Little Boat and, although in the same genre, the latest read, I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron, has a completely different tone.
The art of the personal essay is to capture the essence of an era — or to create a story from what some would consider daily minutiae.
Ephron is a master of the craft. She easily relays the story of a meatloaf named after her — and discuss its ultimate demise as if it were a masterpiece snubbed by society.
She, of course, is the author of When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail to name a few, so writing is her craft — one she successfully garnered into a livelihood (Ephron passed away in 2012).
It’s her straightforward honestly that appeals to me. In a chapter where she deals candidly with her works that flopped, she had this to say about the notion we all learn from failure.
… there are people who have positive things to say about flops. They write books about success through failure and the power of failure. Failure, they say, is a growth experience. You learn from failure. I wish that were true. It seems to me that the main thing you learn from a failure is that it’s entirely possible you will have another failure.
No sugarcoating, no false bravado — just the cold, hard truth.
But, she is not overly pessimistic, if fact when bad things happen to her, she finds the good in them.
She writes a story about a inheritance she is slated to receive. She waits, anticipating whether or not she will receive any money — and then, of course, she wonders just how much she will receive.
It turns out to be much, much less than anticipated, but as she wryly points out, if it had been larger she would not have finished the script she was working on at the time.
And we would not have known the delights of When Harry Met Sally.
I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections is a quick read — less than 150 pages. It is funny, insightful and worth your time.
Rated 4 out of 5.