Posts Tagged Delia Ephron
1. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud [Knopf]
–a brilliant novel about anything but that typical woman upstairs. It’s about aspirations present and past, realized and forsaken.
2. The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna [Tin House Books]
–an intense book about squatting, community and political activism in the 90s
3. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi [Penguin]
–a beautifully written book. haunting and lyrical. family, race, country, belonging.
4. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward [Bloomsbury]
–this memoir. raw. upsetting. the author mediates on the poverty in Louisiana and the black men she lost in its depths.
5. Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat [Knopf]
–another novel in which I’m in awe of the writing style. gorgeous mystical tale about Haiti.
6. FEVER by Mary Beth Keane [Scribner]
-wondrous historical fiction about “Typhoid Mary.” fascinatingly imagined.
7. The Inbetween People by Emma McEvoy [The Permanent Press]
–stunning, powerful novel. Avi Goldberg writes from military prison because he refuses to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces [IDF]. He writes about his friend Saleem, an Israeli Arab he met. Their lives intertwine despite cultural differences and past troubles.
8. In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler [Metropolitan]
–not only a memoir about Ensler’s personal journey with cancer but it’s a call to community, to get involved. so powerful I cried when I finished reading it.
9. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan [ECCO]
–sweeping story about mothers and daughters set in turn-of-the-century Shanghai
10. Harvard Square by Andre Aciman [W.W. Norton]
–melancholic, nostalgic autobiographical novel about belonging and assimilation that focuses on immigrants finding their place in America in the 70s.
11. Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.) by Delia Ephron [Blue Rider]
–the this essay collection, Delia tackles the profound to the superficial with wit, perception and charm. She maintains a steady wisdom-filled tone. She’s a woman who’s experienced plenty and shares mistakes, some secrets and reflects upon life-lessons with those willing to listen.
12. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell [Knopf]
–This collection of stories transports you to places you never imagined going to. Russell writes stories about variations on monsters. Beautiful, peculiar, unusual and tragic monsters. She creates bizarre, macabre and funny settings. Complete with vivid imagery, creepiness and potent emotions without an excess of verbiage. She writes dark, funny and tender.
13. Freud’s Mistress by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack [Amy Einhorn]
–long rumored to have had an affair with his wife’s sister, Kaufman and Mack vividly imagine this sister’s character and life with the Freuds.
14. Montana by Gwen Florio [The Permanent Press]
–MONTANA drew me in immediately with its stellar page-turning plot, terrific characters and stunning descriptions of Montana scenery. Also Lola’s an independent feminist journalist determined to uncover the truth at any cost.
15. Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III [WW Norton]– author interview
–one of my all-time favorite authors writes vignettes about love, sex, relationships and the gritty, sticky, messy aftermath.
16. Lillian and Dash by Sam Toperoff [Other Press]
–What a charming novel that delves into the long affair between playwright Lillian Hellman [Little Foxes, The Children’s Hour] and noir author and screenwriter Dashiell Hammett [The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man].
17. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver [Harper Collins]
–Lionel Shriver expresses so many thoughts about obesity epidemic, how we indulge, how food is a treat, a central focus for holidays, outings, dates, meetings etc. Dazzling writing, vocabulary and character creation up until the ending.
18. Together Tea by Marjan Kamali [ECCO]– author interview
–insight into the immigrant experience. Humor, love, respect and mother-daughter bonding make this a book you’ll long remember after finishing the last page. It’s a love story to Persia as well as an acceptance for the United States.
19. The Hypothetical Girl by Elizabeth Cohen [Other Press]– author interview
–in this astute story collection, Elizabeth Cohen writes about dating in the digital age.
20. Nothing Serious by Daniel Klein [The Permanent Press]
–brilliant meditation on print media and its changing format and relevance.
Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.) by Delia Ephron. Publisher: Blue Rider Press (September 17, 2013). Essay/Memoir. Hardcover. 224 pages. ISBN 978-0-399-16655-6.
“No question, I had an inbred arrogance about the culture I was raised in, about the worship of books, theater, writing and brains. My mother often said proudly, ‘We have books in every room.’ Yes, floor-to-ceiling shelves galore crammed with books. There were not artfully placed objets on our shelves. Every ounce of space was for the written word.”
From “Am I Jewish Enough?”
When Delia Ephron’s essay collection arrived at my door I was just finishing up her sister Hallie’s latest thriller. Talented sisters from a talented family. Set aside a few hours because once you start reading, you won’t want to stop. Delia tackles the profound to the superficial with wit, perception and charm. She maintains a steady wisdom-filled tone. She’s a woman who’s experienced plenty and shares mistakes, some secrets and reflects upon life lessons with those willing to listen.
I knew the Ephrons grew up in Los Angeles but didn’t know that Nora, Hallie, Delia and Amy’s parents wrote screenplays such as There’s No Business Like Show Business, The Jackpot, Carousel and Desk Set. But as Delia writes in “Why I Can’t Write About My Mother,” their mother was also a fierce alcoholic. One of those working alcoholics. Delia writes: “I believe having an alcoholic parent is not only something to write about, but that there is an obligation to do it. Growing up as that child is lonely, isolating, confusing, and damaging. There are lots of us. If I have the power by telling a story to make an isolated person less alone, that is a good thing. Besides, I don’t believe in protecting parents who drink—sympathizing, forgiving, but not protecting.”
In the heartbreaking and reminiscent essay “Losing Nora,” Ephron writes about her writing collaboration [You’ve Got Mail, This is My Life] with her competition older sister Nora who died from cancer last year. “Our lives were in some ways entirely separate and unknown to each other, in other ways like vines twisted together. Invading her privacy is not something I want to do.” In other words, the essay’s about their working relationship, their sisterly bonds. You’ll read nothing about Nora’s battle with cancer. That, Delia explains is not her story to tell. “Blame It On the Movies” quaintly chronicles Delia’s introduction to romantic comedies and how she’d compare everything relationship going forward to a movie. She writes: “So there was this problem in my first marriage along with many others. I was actually in love with a city, not a person. No movie prepared me for city love.” [Well said, Delia, well said and completely understandable.]
“Am I Jewish Enough?” allows Delia to delve into the religious question when she’s asked to speak at an exclusive book club to promote her latest novel. She’s never been very strict about her religion and now questions whether she’s welcome into the fold, so to speak. It’s provocative and immensely contemplative. One of the best essays in the collection. “I felt the oppression of religion. Of any organization that gathers us because we’re one religion and not another. Because what I really think is that there is too much religion these days. Too much ‘I’m this and you’re that.’ Fanatics are everywhere.”
The essay “Bakeries” turns into a brilliant mediation on having it all. As women, whether we choose to marry or not. Whether we choose to have children or not. We still get caught in the debate how far to lean in or not. Whether we’re too bitchy or too much of push-overs. Delia writes: “One of the most revolting parts of the American female version–and there are many revolting parts—is that having it all defines “all” in one way: marriage, children, career. It assumes all women want the same thing. Success rests on achieving three goals (life viewed not as a continuum, but an endpoint), and these goals, as it happens, are exactly the ones that will declare you a success at your high school reunion.” Absolutely. This is why I generally avoid Facebook and get super depressed at high school reunions.
Delia and I are Twitter friends (at least in MY mind—bonding with #TheHairReport) so reading her essay collection just brought us closer.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Blue Rider Press.
Making lists of my favorite books, music, films proves challenging every year. Thus I’m making a list of 20. To put it in perspective, I’ve read 90 books at this writing. I have a few in progress. Here are the one’s that I keep thinking about and recommending to others [If I reviewed it, I linked to the review]:
11. Make It Stay by Joan Frank [Permanent Press]
12. Divorce Islamic Style by Amara Lakhous [Europa]
13. The Lion is In by Delia Ephron [Blue Rider Press]
14. Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi [Tin House Books]
15. The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham [Knopf]
16. Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck [NAL, 2012]
17. Threats by Amelia Gray [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]
18. MISS FULLER by April Bernard [SteerForth Press]
19. Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara [Viking]
20. An Unattended Death by Victoria Jenkins [The Permanent Press]
[these are listed in the order that I’ve read them]
The Last Nude by Ellis Avery [Riverhead, 2012]
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margo Livesey [HarperCollins, 2012]
Stay Awake: stories by Dan Chaon [Ballantine/Random House, 2012]
Charlotte au Chocolat: Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood by Charlotte Silver 
Make It Stay by Joan Frank [Permanent Press, 2012]
Divorce Islamic Style by Amara Lakhous [Europa, April 2012]
The Lion is In by Delia Ephron [March 2012]
Guts by Kristen Johnston [March 2012]
Threats by Amelia Gray [Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012]
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green [Dutton, 2012]
Dirt by David Vann [Harper, April 2012]
I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern [IT Books, 2012]
Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead [Riverhead Books, 2012]
MISS FULLER by April Bernard [SteerForth Press, 2012]
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian [Doubleday, 2012]
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus [Knopf, 2012]
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz [Riverhead, 2012]
So impressed by both books. Now need to spread the word. And clear space on my (limited) bookshelves.
The Lion is In by Delia Ephron. Publisher: Blue Rider Press (March 29, 2012). Literary fiction. Hardcover. 304 pages. 978-0399158483.
“Tracee got her into this mess and now Tracee’s gone wiggy over a guy who thinks visiting furniture stores is a fun way to spend a Sunday.”
Three troubled women walk into a tired club in North Carolina. Could there be a joke in that? Tracee chronically shoplifts. Lana is an alcoholic. Rita fled her stifled life as a minster’s wife. This story could veer off in numerous directions but under the deft storytelling skill-set of Delia Ephron, it weaves together in a wondrous fashion. This run-down bar, an aging lion and their relationships with each other help them in a myriad of ways. A delightful, magical read. It’s warm and touching and amusing– all the things one wants in a novel. It’s the kind of book you read in one weekend or sitting because you just don’t want to put it down.
purchase at Amazon: The Lion is In
Guts by Kristen Johnston. Publisher: Gallery Books (March 13, 2012). Memoir. Hardcover. 288 pages. 978-1451635058.
“A huge percentage of the recovering drug addicts I know seem to have a few things in common, other than their disease: intelligence, creativity, individualism, humor, and yes, they all seem to have or have one had enormous amounts of ambition.”
I always thought Kristen Johnston seemed pretty cool with her gangly body and gravelly voice. I’d watch her on Third Rock from the Sun. Now after reading her memoir I think she’s quite amazing. Guts is honest, self-deprecating and wonderful. Johnston doesn’t consider herself a celebrity [she refers to herself as a B-list celebrity actually] but a hard-working actress and acting teacher which differentiates this memoir from other celebrity memoirs. She gets dirty and detailed particularly when she describes the destruction drugs caused to her digestive system. A surgeon told her that her drug use caused “erosion of the gastrointestinal wall, which has led to your intestinal content spilling into your abdominal cavity.” Brave writing. Funny at times too.
purchase at Amazon: Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster