Thursday, April 03, 2014

15 internal revelations

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, essays

My wildcard book this time is Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron. I thought the surname looked familiar. Ms Ephron's sister is Nora Ephron, the screenwriter for When Harry Met Sally and a number of other films. Delia Ephron wrote the script for You've God Mail and a number of others, and the sisters collaborated a few times, most notably with the stage play Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

But Delia, in particular, writes books also and this is her latest. She opens with a sweet-sad rumination on the death of her sister Nora two years ago. In the other 14 essays, she does indeed write about her husband and dog, but when it comes to Mother, well, she writes about how hard it is to write about her mother, given that the relationship was so very difficult, and she is shy of speaking too ill of the dead (but found it hard to speak well of her).

For me, her joy at living in Manhattan came through many of the pieces, and nudged me a bit from my loathing for the place. I don't like cities in the first place—a few years in Los Angeles, the city not a suburb thereof, made sure of that—and while I like to visit NYC or LA or Philly or DC on occasion, I am quite happy living in suburban or rural locales, thank you.

She is a particularly apt chaser of linked ideas (I call it "chasing rabbits"). In "Bakeries" she muses on the notion of having it all, and how we can't, no matter how we define "All". This leads her to what "All" might mean, say, to an urban schoolgirl in the Mideast, where avoiding rape or stoning on the way home from school is having it all.

Having opened with an ode to Nora, she closes with "Collaboration", with its core the co-development of Love, Loss, and What I Wore over a span of 13 years, surrounded by a flurry of vignettes about other collaborations, not all with Nora. In all the essays, she is not afraid for us to see a flawed person who has struggled to rise above early errors and current phobias. Her example may help many of us outgrow our useless neuroses.

P.S. All caught up on my reviews. Stitches removed a few days ago, finger still sore, but I can type with all 10 again. Just gotta keep it short for a while yet.

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