Maybe Nora Ephron should run for president?
Nora Ephron may not have led her nation in a war against terrorism, but she did teach it how to fake an orgasm in a diner, which is surely one of the reasons she filled the 750-seat Chapman Center at the Miami Book Fair last night, just like George Bush did the day before.
Ephron, novelist, screenwriter, movie director and essayist, was on hand to talk about her latest collection of humorous essays, I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections. This is her second book on aging, following I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, a bestseller in 2006.
“It’s my mission to tell you the truth about aging in case you think it’s fun,” Ephron said, adding the horrors of getting older include things “you’d never imagine, like elbows: If my elbows faced forward I would shoot myself.”
A surprise bonus for the lucky audience, Ephron was interviewed on stage by Miami-based humorist Dave Barry. The two traded quips all night, but, God bless him, Barry consistently turned the conversation away from himself and back to Ephron.
Barry said he first knew Ephron from her Esquire essays in the mid-70s. “I think I’m a funny guy, but I was in despair after reading ‘A Few Words About Breasts,’ easily the funniest essay ever written about breasts, including anything by Jane Austen.”
Ephron said she met Barry four years ago on the escalator at the Book Fair, after “stalking” him. She noted things they have in common: 1) dogs named Lucy; 2) narrowly missing the Nobel Prize; 3) three marriages; 4) the last one happy because it’s mixed.
“Actually, my wife is Cuban Jewish — Jewban,” said Barry, who is married to Miami Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman. “They didn’t come here on rafts. They parted the Caribbean and walked.”
Barry asked Ephron to list the things she doesn’t remember. “Some things,” she said, “I remember that I don’t remember.” Meeting Eleanor Roosevelt, for instance. Meeting the Beatles backstage at their first appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show. Attending the 1967 protest march on the Pentagon.
“Norman Mailer got an entire book out of the march,” said Ephron, who added she spent most of the time in a hotel room with her boyfriend. “I can hardly get a paragraph. But if you wondered which of us was most interested in sex you might not think it was me — and how wrong you would be.”
In a consistently funny conversation, Barry and Ephron covered most of her life and career– growing up in California, the daughter of screenwriters. Becoming a journalist in New York. Marrying and divorcing Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein. Breaking into the movies first as a screenwriter with Silkwood, Heartburn and When Harry Met Sally (with the famous faked-orgasm scene by Meg Ryan) and director of beloved films like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Julie and Julia.
The discussion veered into more serious territory when both writers talked about their parents’ alcoholism. Barry praised Ephron for writing about her mother’s descent into drunkness. “I never wanted to write anything that personal,” he said.
“The Evening with…” series continues today with nonfiction writer and running expert Christopher McDougall (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen) at 6 p.m. Novelist Richard Goolrick (The Reliable Wife) follows at 8 p.m.
All evening author events are held in the Chapman Center at Miami Dade College’s downtown Miami campus, 300 NE Second Ave. Tickets are $10. See http://miamibookfair.com/.