Saturday, January 3, 2015

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

2 Stars
I grew up with Nora Ephron. Her movies taught me everything I would ever need to know about having unrealistic expectations when it comes to matters of the heart . . .

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They made me laugh . . .

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And sometimes they even made me cry . . .

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That's why it's so hard for me to give this book such a low rating. But it's a low rating I must give because Heartburn just wasn't very good. I'll let Nora's own words do most of the talking here so I don't have to, but to briefly summarize the plot - this is a fictional accounting of the actual demise of Nora Ephron and Carl Bernstein's marriage. According to the blurb it is sidesplittingly funny. In reality?

"Not that this book has an enormous amount of plot, but it has more plot than I've ever dealt with before. My other books just meander from one person to the next, whereas this one has a story with a beginning and an end."

Well, in theory it has all of that, but in all actuality Heartburn reads like a rambling, frantic journal entry rather than a well thought out novel.

Entries such as the following:

"Sometimes I believe that love dies but hope springs eternal. Sometimes I believe that hope dies but love springs eternal. Sometimes I believe that sex plus guilt equals love, and sometimes I believe that sex plus guilt equals good sex. Sometimes I believe that love is as natural as the tides, and sometimes I believe that love is an act of will. Sometimes I believe that some people are better at love than others, and sometimes I believe that everyone is taking it. Sometimes I believe that love is essential, and sometimes I believe that the only reason love is essential is that otherwise you spend all your times looking for it."

would be pretty damn striking and memorable if the book weren't filled with schizophrenic rants such as these.

I'm pretty sure writing Heartburn was a much needed therapeutic experience for Nora Ephron. She says herself:

"Because if I tell the story, I control the version. If I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it."

I believe she did, in fact, need to write this story . . . but I feel like she needed to do it for herself and it didn't necessarily need to be published.

Now the movie????

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One of my favorites. This is one of the rare cases (yep, I'm still looking at you Winston Groom and your pitiful excuse for a story that was the print version of Forrest Gump) where the movie was better than the book. Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson had such great chemistry, there was a lot of humor that I felt the book was missing, and Jack played his role so well it was easy to see how even though Carl Mark was a total shit Nora Rachel could want to fight to stay in love and married to him. Nora Ephron was a great writer of film and the movie version of Heartburn proves it.

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