Tuesday, November 20, 2018


While the title of this post could describe some of my autumn, I finally read Nora Ephron's novel of the same name, about being seven months pregnant and finding out your husband is cheating on you.

Heartburn is the first book I've read of Ephron's and now I understand what all the fuss is about.  While it's accurate to say that anyone with Ephron's hairstyle has me at hello, a hairstyle featured prominently on the whole back cover, the book was worth the wait/procrastination/whatever the word is for my stubborn refusal to read things until I'm good and ready.  However long it took me to get here, I'm a fan.

Except for one thing. At the start of the novel, Ephron refers to her husband's analyst, a Guatamalen woman, with all sorts of questionable names: Chiquita Banana, Central American shrinkette, Our Lady of the Castanets among them. I think it's supposed to be humorous, with all the ire pointed at her philandering husband (boy, that's becoming a real theme on this blog), but, I thought to myself every time I read one and flinched: what do all her fans have to say about these jokes now?  

So I have to say that. I was uncomfortable reading sometimes, as I often am when visiting past hits. Tommy Boy, for instance, is nearly unwatchable now because of all the sexism. Okay, that's not a great example. There's no Criterion Collection for Tommy Boy, I realize. But if there were, would it address the work's horrible - or intentional - blind spots?

Moving on! All my friends who turned me onto Heartburn are admitted foodies, and while I knew Ephron had something to do with food and food-writing, the unassuming way recipes are threaded through the text is genius. If you don't want to eat crispy potatoes after reading this book, your name is either Samantha and you don't appreciate the potato enough in any form outside of a french fry, or you are no friend of mine.

Finally, my notes for this book have the word brutal written after a bullet point about the ending. I couldn't remember why I wrote that, so I just re-read the ending and was covered head to toe in goose bumps. Now I remember why I wrote it, and boy does it stand. The ending is heartbreaking and, at the same time, so beautiful I wanted to turn around and start the whole book over again.

Instead, before heading to bed I searched "Is Ephron's novel Heartburn true" and read an online article corroborating that Heartburn is indeed a near-account of something that happened to her. But I learned something that blew my mind then: the offending husband was none other than Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter who covered the Watergate scandal. 

They look perfect together, I don't know what you're talking about.
You guys!! Is my subconscious crazy or what?! How did I know to read the next book in my unofficial study of All the President's Men and everything I never knew I cared about in Washington politics?  Is life weird or WHAT?

That indulgence aside, I heard in an interview with Harry Goldblatt, Editor in Chief of Entertainment Weekly, that When Harry Met Sally is still one of his all-time favorite movies and I basically fist-pumped in the dark, with a sleeping, nuzzling Ellis next to me. When Harry Met Sally is in my top three movies, and since I wrote about Tommy Boy above, you might as well know that Wayne's World used to be in my top three, too. 

And Footloose. There. It's out. 

All jokes aside - if you're even still here (it wouldn't be the first time I lost someone at Footloose) Tim deserves public credit for watching Footloose with me a few weeks ago. We were trying to find a Tig Notaro special and, of all the pivots to make, right before we turned off the TV in failure, were offered the chance to watch Footloose. "Is this a sign?" said Tim, who had never seen it and knew I had watched it again and again in my youth. His verdict? You'll have to ask him. I was too busy declaring that certain songs were the best ones ("I Need a Hero") and others were gross mis-steps (Anything Sammy Hagar-related). I do know Tim was disturbed that the first kiss between the main characters happens just after the female lead is given a black eye by her ex-boyfriend, and while Tim is certainly right to be horrified from a feminist perspective, I was too busy wondering if I had to tell him that I once made my friend watch that scene in slow motion.   


Aren't inner selves ridiculous?

Truthfully, I think an amazing essay, or at the very least, article, could be written about the overwhelming bromance in Footloose, and how gymnastics, dancing, and tight jeans combine in the character of Ren McCormack. Am I up for it? The night after we watched it I was, but now it's disappeared down the same hole I pour most of my ideas - a hole that Samantha, Ellis, and I peer down while eating peanut butter toast and granola bars on a daily basis. Tim and I did agree, however, that in retrospect the main character in Footloose is really the one played by John Lithgow.

I searched the phrase "angry dance scene footloose" looking for this

I watched a documentary called One Track Heart about a musician named Krishna Das, a kirtan singer I like, and I enjoyed it. I also checked out Jeff Tweedy's new book, a memoir about the bands he's started and played in, and while I've already lol'd a bunch of times, and I appreciate his humor and playfulness, I sort of wish the whole back-of-cover, celebrity treatment had been skipped for this one. There's really no way to rest this book in my house where I'm not startled when I come into the room. Which Tweedy would you rather have greet you, when you aren't thinking about him?


Orrrrrrrr this one?


Okay, that's not the actual photo from the back of the book, but it's got a similar mood except the real one is closer up and his head is cocked and it basically feels like he's creeping around a corner, sneaking up to say peek-a-boo. Point being, the cover is challenging my devotion to this artist, something I didn't know was possible. But I'll probably still read it.

Some of this post was written while Ellis stood next to my desk, crying with a runny nose. There were tissues everywhere and my desk looked like Sally's apartment the night Joe tells her he's marrying someone else.

For more Nora Ephron love, here's a piece about her excellent dialogue, and feel free to take a moment this Thanksgiving to reflect on the real origins of this holiday

Finally, a shout out to Amelia's 2014 gift guide featuring Meg Ryan in a classic sweatsuit.

P.S. Go here for another picture of Tim in a bathtub - not what you're thinking but for the best bearded man in a bathtub scene, please watch Kelly Reichardt's film Old Joy.

Related posts you might like:

Sloane Crosley, Peter Carey, and more importantly, Birds

The Diarist and Me: A Love Song in Three Parts

More Jackie (Please Don't Judge) and Some Good Old Public Shaming

Happy Birthday, Ellis