Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nonfiction | Aging, Forgetfully

Back when I committed to the Read Harder Challenge, I did a fair amount of book research and made a whole big list of the titles I was going to read for each category. For the category requiring "a book written by someone when they were over the age of 65," I had originally picked Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking, because I've never read any Didion.

Well, that was a year ago that I made that selection, and at this point, I'm really not in the mood for some deep, depressing literature. So a quick browse through my library's eBook offerings led me to something shorter and sweeter—Nora Ephron's humorous observations on aging, I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections.

Knowing that Ephron passed away just a couple years after this was published, this series of essays and comedic ponderings feels almost like her final reflections on the meaningful moments and serendipitous situations of her life. She talks about her early career and entry into journalism in an era during which women were relegated to lower, menial job titles for no reason other than blatant sexism and gender inequality. She jokes about her constant battles with technology, despite penning a rather successful screenplay based on just that [though funnily enough, though, her recent encounters with technology seem to be stuck in the You've Got Mail era of internet communication]. She discusses the satisfaction of professional success and the heartbreak attached to flops. 

Obviously, Ephron is an engaging, enjoyable, observant writer. This collection, though humorous, certainly has a bit of melancholy tagging alongside. Sure, she shares lots of funny anecdotes and on-point observations that inspire that chuckle of agreement, but what she's really speaking to is the act of GETTING OLD. And that's not without some small level of sadness, be it because of fear or unfulfillment or whatever. But what I think Ephron is trying to do here with this book, as with all her works, is bring a lightness to a disagreeable idea, to trigger a realization that this experience is universal, to make molehills out of the mountain of Aging.

I didn't love this. Some bits seemed more worthy of a recollection over drinks with a friend than an essay published to the masses. And I'll probably forget most of what she said by this time next month. But then again, Ephron is writing plainly, jovially here about life experiences, ones that I don't currently have but that many do. If this connects with the right reader, and brings a little humor to a daunting concept, then I guess it has served its purpose.

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