A Woman to Know: Nora Ephron

I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women. - Nora

“Journalism: A Love Story” is my all-time favorite Ephron piece.

For you uninitiated (welcome to the cult!), Nora Ephron is a much-beloved writer and director, famous for such blockbuster hits as Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail.

But first, she was a journalist. Throughout the 60s and 70s, Nora wrote for Newsweek, The New York Post, Esquire and more. She worked as a mail girl, a clipper, a researcher, a columnist and a magazine writer.

Now Nora is the subject of a new documentary, “Everything is Copy,” created by her son, Jacob Bernstein. What else am I to give you but that, its pertinent info (HBO, this spring), and a far-from-comprehensive read/watch list below? Read Heartburn. Read Crazy Salad. Go all out and delve deep into her profiles and essays, anthologized in The Most of Nora Ephron.

From "Journalism: A Love Story":

… for many years I was in love with journalism. I loved the pack. I loved smoking and drinking Scotch and playing dollar poker. I didn't know much about anything, and I was in a profession where you didn't have to. I loved the deadlines. I loved the speed. I loved that you wrapped the fish.

I'd known since I was a child that I was going to live in New York eventually, and that everything in between would just be an intermission. I'd spent all those years imagining that it was going to be the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place I could ever live; a place where if I really wanted something, I might be able to get it; a place where I'd be surrounded by people I was dying to know; a place where I might become the only thing worth being—a journalist.

And I'd turned out to be right.

I’ve lived in New York but now I live in Washington, DC, where Nora lived when she was living the plot of her first book, Heartburn. I don’t smoke, and I don’t play dollar poker. But damn if I don’t love journalism. Even if my mail girl/clipper/mag writer duties are more about tweeting and tumbling and “Have you tried clearing your cache?” than about physically slicing bylines and replacing typewriter ribbons. Damn if I don’t love wrapping the fish.

Read more by Nora:

Journalism: A Love Story (ELLE)

Moving On (The New Yorker)

On Maintenance (Esquire)

A Few Words About Breasts (Esquire)

All The President’s Girls (The New York Times)

Read more on Nora:

Being Nora Ephron (The New York Review of Books)

Everyone’s Arch and Insightful New Best Friend (The New Yorker)

Delia Ephron, on the complexity of sisterhood (NPR)

The gospel of Ephron: What Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham’s books have in common (Salon)

Seeing Nora Everywhere (The New Yorker)

Watch more:

The fake orgasm scene (you know what movie)

Nora’s 1996 Wellesley commencement address

Nora: “Most men don’t want to direct movies that aren’t about them” (The Guardian)

Nora Ephron and Lena Dunham in conversation (Criterion Collection)

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