November 4, 2010 / 10:38 PM / 7 years ago

Nearing 70, Ephron loves writing essays on age

4 Min Read

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As you age, live life to the fullest -- travel to exotic places, eat good food, walk in the park, read lots of books and under no circumstances eat egg-white omelettes.

That's the nub of Nora Ephron's new book, "I Remember Nothing," an acerbic, humorous set of essays that works as a sequel to her 2006 best-seller, "I Feel Bad About My Neck."

"You may look OK, you may even be able to jump rope, which I am able to do, but you are not the person you used to be," Ephron said in an interview at her Manhattan apartment.

"At some point, your luck is going to run out. ... You are very aware with friends getting sick that it can end in a second," she said.

That may sound bleak, but in person and in writing, Ephron delivers her message with the ebullient tones of hit movies she wrote such as "When Harry Met Sally..." and "Sleepless in Seattle," which she also directed.

At 69, dressed in black leather pants and high-heeled ankle boots, the author does not look as if she is battling the ravages of age. That's her point -- telling others of a similar age to enjoy life while they still can.

"You have to realistically know that you are in the long shadows now, and you have to live knowing that at a certain point, you will start failing in some way," she said.

"You should eat delicious things while you can still eat them, go to wonderful places while you still can ... and not have evenings where you say to yourself, 'What am I doing here? Why am I here? I am bored witless!'"

For her, that means planning a trip to Turkey.

"I just do not want to die having not gone to Istanbul," she said. "We all think we are going to get old, and we will finally get to travel. But you can't walk when you are older. So you better do it now."

That's not all. "You think you are going to get old and read a lot of books? But you won't be able to see them."

Four years ago, Ephron fretted that the loose skin on her neck looked chicken-like. Now she is more accepting of aging, finding a bare spot on her head once thick with hair and struggling to remember the names of friends who look to her like older versions of how she remembers them.

What Was That Movie Called?

She writes about everything from why she cannot remember the name of the Jeremy Irons movie about Claus von Bulow ("All I ever succeeded in remembering was that it was three words long and the middle word was 'of,'" she writes of "Reversal of Fortune") to being addicted to online Scrabble ("My brain turned to cheese. I could feel it happening," she writes).

Ephron said she always loved essays -- she had two collections published in the 1970s, "Crazy Salad" and "Wallflower at the Orgy." But then, as she puts it, she got distracted making movies. Her writing and directing credits include "You've Got Mail" and "Julie & Julia."

Her big break came after a messy divorce from Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, the genesis for her 1983 novel "Heartburn" that became a hit movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.

Ephron writes about avoiding writing and wasting time. But she remains prolific -- she is writing a screenplay about the singer Peggy Lee and has finished a play about the late New York journalist Mike McAlary.

When not tied up with such work, she worries why people eat egg-white omelettes and why no one listens to her theory about cholesterol.

"It is not true that dietary cholesterol affects your cholesterol count," she said about her essay "I Just Want to Say: The Egg-White Omelette."

"If you lose weight and get in shape, you will lower your cholesterol count. You can eat chopped liver while you are doing this because there is no connection between the two things," she said.

"I am a voice crying in the wilderness," she admits, adding, "Every time I see someone eating an egg-white omelette, I just want to say, 'Are you crazy?'"

Reporting by Mark Egan; Editing by Peter Cooney

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