I am planning my trip to the US next week for my book on how not to age. Part of my aim is to interview interesting women of a certain age and discover their anti-ageing secrets. One of these women is the writer Nora Ephron (see below blog things everybody should know).
I have been a fan of Nora’s since I read her novel Heartburn almost twenty years ago. Then of course I saw When Harry met Sally which made me revere her even more and when Sleepless in Seattle came out (one of my all-time top ten films, yes, I know, I’m deeply superficial) she was elevated to goddess status in my mind.
So imagine how gutted I was to hear from her agent that she will be in London when I’m in New York. I briefly thought about re-arranging my whole trip but realised that would be impossible, not least because my ticket is non-flexible and having not yet written anything as good as Sleepless in Seattle I can’t afford another one.
“How about a telephone interview?” I asked. He said he would get back to me. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell Nora that when I met Margaret Jay I hated her on sight, and that was before I even knew she’d run off with Nora’s husband Carl Bernstein.
Today, three weeks later, I finally hear back. It’s a no. “She doesn’t have anything to contribute,” writes the agent. “It all ended up in her book I feel bad about my Neck.”
Well that’s just rubbish. There is really one chapter of the book that is about ageing and you’re not telling me that one of the most prolific female American female writers of our times has “nothing to contribute”. This is a woman who never stops contributing.
Maybe she is just too famous now, but I would hope, well first I hope I become as famous and successful as she is, but then if I do become famous and successful I hope that if a life-long fan of mine who is younger and less successful than I am tries to spend ten minutes on the phone with me I would agree to do it. I mean she could multi-task, paint her nails at the same time and I would pay for the call. She could even get one of her servants to take the call, how the hell would I know? I just don’t see what she has to lose. Maybe she gets inundated with requests every day. Although I can’t think from whom, it’s not as if she’s Sharon Stone (another one who turned me down by the way, but I was less surprised by that).
Iris Murdoch replied to every letter she ever got from a reader. I do too, even the truly offensive ones. It really doesn’t take much, and who are you writing for, if not the people that read you?
So my book will have to do without Nora Ephron. I guess I’ll get over it. And as her mother used to tell her; “Everything is copy.”
By the way, my husband has been complaining that my blog only has pictures of sexy men on it. He says it’s like a middle-aged woman’s fantasy blog. So here is a picture of Sharon just for him. And any middle-aged lesbians who might be reading. As for the rest of you, normal service resumes tomorrow.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007
I am deeply disappointed in Nora, mainly in her lack of curiosity!
Please promise you’ll only interview women who are growing old gracefully without indulging in self-mutilation (i.e. cosmetic surgery). This would seem to rule out Sharon–I couldn’t help but notice that her breasts look like a set of bowling balls perched on an ironing board in your photo. Mark my word, you won’t regret it if you stick to women who have foregone the knife. A backlash is a-brewing, I think. There are some high-profile, mature women who have publicly stated their opposition to surgery and who look the better for it: Diane Keaton, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Frances McDormand, Diane Lane…
Speaking of which, have you seen Roseanna Arquette’s documentary called Looking for Debra Winger? It is is right up yours, alley-wise. It begins as a documentary about how hard it is to combine motherhood and a career on the big screen in Hollywood, then turns into a riff about how Hollywood doesn’t write good roles for older women, and finally gets to its real subject: how uncomfortable Hollywood is with women aging on screen, why some actresses give in to the pressure and cut themselves up and why some don’t. It turns out that Debra Winger just disappeared from the public eye one day. Roseanna finds and interviews her, and it is just amazing to see how relaxed and wonderful she looks, and how gracefully she’s aging compared with some of the documentary’s obvious casualties. (Melanie Griffith looks absolutely frightening–and frightened–in the documentary; Jane Fonda can no longer move her head or lips and must have required hours of preparation for her shoot.) If you’ve seen this already, I must be boring you…sorry. But if you haven’t, you must see it as you research your book.
I am 50, by the way. Maybe I learned something about aging gracefully and good living during my 20 years in France, because people back here in Seattle who are my age look (and act) old enough to be my parents! And I have signed a moral pact with my best friend, an Australian who lives in Paris and who is 51, to NEVER, EVER go under the knife. We are proud members of GOG (as in Growing Old Gracefully), our private club, and are embarked on the much more difficult and hence rewarding challenge of taking care of our souls, our faces and our bodies as they take us through life, without carving them to pieces.
Well, if the word “middle-aged” is applied to anything about you, even just something in your blog, there is no hope whatosever for me.. I think woman of any age should do as they feel; it’s about each person’s way of making the best of themselves (or not) I would prefer to spend my money in other ways , but I have no right to criticise or even comment on another woman who makes different choices .I once had Botox and ended up with two huge black eyes AND I didn’t look any different. I had it done secretly as I wanted to see if my husband noticed – he did
I love your writing and look forward to your new book. Please please can you interview Carine Roitfeld and/ or Emmanuelle Alt? They both embody whom I would love to be when I grow up.
Hmmph – I always rather rooted for articulate, clever Nora Ephron after BJ ran off with her (feckless, disloyal) husband! How ungracious!
Did you consider that maybe she was just tired or busy? I think you are making this bigger than it is. I think chastising her in public via blog is rather ungracious of you frankly. I doubt she meant to disapoint you, but there are only so many hours in a day after all. I would think that she does keep quite busy …seeing as she is the inspiration for almost every female writer I know.
You come off as petty in this post, and a bit snarky, which is odd for someone who takes bad reviews and mean emails so to heart. Look at it from her side, especially when you are having a very busy work week, or are writing and directing your next film. (joking)
I like your book by the way, just can’t have you picking on our Nora.
I like your book by the way, just can’t have you picking on our Nora.
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