Iconic woman Nora Ephron passed away this past week. Her wit, candor, and talent will be missed. LB
Nora Ephron—An Appreciation
Women’s Media Center
By M. G. Lord
June 29, 2012
Author M. G. Lord knew Nora Ephron socially, but appreciated her most through Ephron’s essays. She writes about why they’ve had only the best influence on her own writing.
Nora Ephron taught me the difference between wit and snark—long before snark slithered out from its dark hole and infected the national dialogue.
Nora was classy, in the way that wit is classy. Often she mocked herself in order to mock deserving targets. In a piece pegged to the 25th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, for example, she confessed that in high school, she had skipped over the book’s passages about egoism and altruism and fallen hard for its architect hero: “I spent the next year hoping I would meet a gaunt, orange-haired architect who would rape me. Or, failing that, an architect who would rape me. Or failing that, an architect.”
To her shock, however, in a college seminar, she discovered that the book was not, in fact, a celebration of sex or buildings but rather a polemic against the welfare state. And she reached this inevitable conclusion. Rand’s work, she declared, “is better read when one is young enough to miss the point.”
In her professional life, however, Nora rarely missed the point. In 2008, for instance, she was far too clever to be manipulated by the Slate editors who invited her—and other women writers—to define “feminist.” What they sought was a loose interpretation that might permit the word to be applied to Sarah Palin, the gun-toting, anti-choice fundamentalist whom G.O.P. Presidential Candidate John McCain had selected as his running mate.
What Nora gave them was this: “I know that I’m supposed to write 500 words on this subject, but it seems much simpler: You can’t call yourself a feminist if you don’t believe in the right to abortion.”
Although I encountered Nora socially over the last three decades—we had several friends in common—I mostly knew her through her work. And, happily, she knew me through mine. I will never forget the night she crossed the room at a party to tell me how much she had liked my book, Forever Barbie—never mind that this occurred long after the book was published. In my universe, Nora was more than an important movie director. She was the author of “A Few Words About Breasts,” a classic 1970s essay on women and body image that informed every page in my book.