My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

ARC Review: She Made Me Laugh by Richard Cohen


Please Note:  I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect the opinions in my review in any way.  

Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Nora Ephron, one of the most famous writers, film makers, and personalities of her time is captured by her long-time and dear friend in a hilarious, blunt, raucous, and poignant recollection of their decades-long friendship.

Nora Ephron (1941–2012) was a phenomenal personality, journalist, essayist, novelist, playwright, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, and movie director (Sleepless in Seattle; You’ve Got Mail; When Harry Met Sally; Heartburn; Julie & Julia). She wrote a slew of bestsellers (I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman; I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections; Scribble, Scribble: Notes on the Media; Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women). She was celebrated by Hollywood, embraced by literary New York, and adored by legions of fans throughout the world.

Award-winning journalist Richard Cohen, wrote this about his “third-person memoir”: “I call this book a third-person memoir. It is about my closest friend, Nora Ephron, and the lives we lived together and how her life got to be bigger until, finally, she wrote her last work, the play, Lucky Guy, about a newspaper columnist dying of cancer while she herself was dying of cancer. I have interviewed many of her other friends—Mike Nichols, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Arianna Huffington—but the book is not a name-dropping star turn, but an attempt to capture a remarkable woman who meant so much to so many other women.”

As far as writers go, few have been as influential as Nora Ephron.  She wrote one of the most romantic movies of the 1980's, Sleepless In Seattle, and also one of the most caustic, Heartburn.  Both are compelling classics for different reason.  Writer Richard Cohen was a close friend of Nora Ephron (it just doesn't seem right to say simply, Nora), and his book shows how brilliant and groundbreaking her writing was.  This is a thoughtful and well-written book.  Yet, this portrayal also makes Ms. Ephron seem rather elitist, a stereotype of a "New York Intellectual".

What I liked:
There are many interesting stories and anecdotes about what a force of nature she was.  Apparently, her dinner parties were legendary.  I will say that the author did not shy away from painting Ms. Ephron in a negative light, at times.  She would preside over a dinner table, dictating what the topic of conversation would be.  Guests were expected to perform, and heaven help them if they didn't deliver an entertaining repartee (they would not be invited back and sometimes were shunned from Ms. Ephron's social circle).

Most of the time, Ms. Ephron seems totally in control.  It is one of the major questions of this book as to why she kept her terminal cancer a secret from even her closest friends.  Was it vanity?  Did she think it would make her appear weak?  Maybe she couldn't stand pity.  We readers will never know, as the author never quite revealed an answer.  But I think that to even her closest friends, Nora Ephron remained a mystery.

What I didn't like:
As written, Nora Ephron comes off as a colossal snob.  Although, she was friends with many people who were not famous, it seems like most people were judged by their fame or notoriety.  This lady enjoyed name dropping.  Of course, she did know many famous people and was married to one of the most famous journalists in American history, Carl Bernstein.  But all the adoration of the well-known rubbed me the wrong way.

I would have been more interested to read about what it was like to be one of the only women directors in the 80's.  Did she feel like she had to be tougher and shine brighter to gain legitimacy?  Was she ever slighted by producers?  Again, this book makes it seem that she simple commanded respect, and it was given.  I find that hard to believe.

If you enjoy the writings and works of Nora Ephron, I actually would recommend this book.  But, unless you are a super fan, you may find this book to be a bit self-congratulatory.  




Release Date:  September 6th, 2016

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-book

Recommendation:  At times a bit fawning, this book is for people already familiar with Ms. Ephron's work. 
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