I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

In her latest collection of personal observations, truisms, and experiences, I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections, author Nora Ephron assembles more life lessons cloaked in pithy, relatable text.

Nora obviously had a few more things to get off her chest after her book I Feel Bad About My Neck. Being a big believer in a refreshing, recuperative rant every now and then, I gleefully listened for her latest editorials. Nora masterfully and lovingly rants about the things we would all rant about if we had the enormous platform or audience to listen.

While there ain’t no rant like an adorable Nora rant, the book’s title is what really drew me in. I have a morosely poor memory, and I was eager to hear what she had to say on the topic—so I could then promptly forget it.

Concerning her own fading memory, Nora concedes, “On some level, my life has been wasted on me. After all, if I can’t remember it, who can?”

(Preach it, sister!)

Nora produces a long list of celebrity encounters that she confesses she can’t recall anything about — like Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. She also admits that the sole thing she recalls about her trip to the White House the evening Richard Nixon resigned was her stolen wallet.

(Hey, I’m not here to judge.)

Her painfully on-target representation of the “name game” we all play will make you giggle like a schoolgirl. We have all been there – someone is standing in front of you as you strain to remember that person’s name – while you scrape the corners of your mind for the correct answer. Those horrible, panic-encased, endless moments when you know you should know the name, but you can’t quite put your [trembling] finger on it. Instead, you just drown in a sea of your own racing, jumbled thoughts. Nora’s been there. Believe me. She feels our pain, and her humor makes it bearable.

In her easy, conversational style, Nora wittily pinpoints the awkward spaces of all of our lives. (For instance, she covers how it feels to find out that your hair has been a mess or that you have had your shirt on inside-out for the whole day.) She simply muses, “It’s very sad to look in the bathroom mirror at the end of an evening and realize you’ve spent the last ninety minutes with spinach on your tooth . . . and that none of your friends loved you enough to tell you.”

(Amen, Nora. Where’s the love?)

Nora just gets it. She’s real and relevant, and meets us where we are. Even though she’s a member of the Hollywood elite, she’s not one of those untouchable “perfect people.” You know – those perfect people – the ones who retrieve a clean, white shirt in the morning and return it to their closets in pristine condition at the end of the day. Ephron rolls her eyes at those living pillars of perfection right along with the rest of us Average Joes. If your life is filled with faux pas, you’ll feel right at home reading this work.

Ephron essentially allows us to eavesdrop on her life: the happy, the sad, and even her admitted addiction to online Scrabble gaming sites. She examines interpersonal relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and beloved idols. Ephron’s recounting of her own everyday experiences will have you nodding vigorously and conspiratorially as you yell, “Yes! Yes! That’s so true!”

The book, however, is not all school-girl giggles. Readers will find some poignant, personal revelations buried between the jokes – such as the difficulties she dealt with during the decline of her mother’s health and her failed first marriage. Nora’s depth makes this book more than a guilty pleasure: it is an affirming guide to human interaction. 

If looking for a cohesive thesis, this is not the book for you. Instead, Ephron presents anecdotal morsels in what seems to be no particular order – a format that may suit many in this ADD-riddled society that we inhabit. (ADD is actually one of the issues covered in the book.) In fact, a few of her chapters are simply lists of items—nothing more. Some of my personal favorite statements come from the chapter/list “Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again” A few examples:

Beautiful young women sometimes marry ugly, old rich men.

Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.

There is no explaining the stock market, but people try.

You can never know the truth of anyone’s marriage, including your own.

People look like their dogs.

In the end, while not as ruefully or fall-down funny as I Feel Bad About My Neck, I Remember Nothing is a solid, extremely enjoyable contribution from this unassuming, effortlessly funny lady. It is certainly entertaining enough to spur the reader to check out Ephron’s other works, including Heartburn.

I enjoyed this work by audiobook, so I must add that having the author read the material was a treat. While Ephron herself would admit her voice does not fall under the categories of “sultry” or “silky-smooth,” I cannot imagine anyone else being able to sprinkle the text with the same richness that Ephron brings to her work in her warm, welcoming style with her own telling inflections and intonations.


About the Author

Alesha Terry is a children's associate at the Plaza Branch.