Nora Ephron was funny. She was, of course, funny on the spot, which some people can be some of the time, but Nora could be purposively funny, which is much harder and rarer. She had to gin up her resources to pull that off and she was funny on multiple canvasses. She was a delicious, witty, whimsical writer; a shrewd, canny observer of politics, women and men, New York, food, children, Hollywood, and her own neck.
She wrote and directed films, churned out books, was an essayist central to The New Yorker’s identity and was a landmark conversationalist, just about the best person you could wind up talking to at a cocktail party. She was a generous listener and utterly authentic. The first time I met Nora, about 12 years ago, we were seated next to one another at a dinner in a Manhattan townhouse and she made me, and everyone else at the table, laugh. She stayed on it, too, keeping us laughing through each and every course, as if it were a tutorial.
Nora had the self-confidence to not only acknowledge her own insecurities but to jest about them and own them, and, when she wanted to, she could wield humor like a stiletto. She once wrote this: “Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” And this: “When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first, that way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.” And this: “In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind. ”
So, now, whoosh, the candle has gone out.
Nora was a magician and she’ll be missed.
This originally appeared in our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store.