Remember Nothing And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
Black Swan $29.99
For women of a certain (or uncertain) age, remembering nothing is not difficult. Remembering something is more problematic. Thus, women of a certain age - and some men, I suspect - will be enchanted by Nora Ephron's take on memory, or lack of it, and other uncertainties encountered during the ageing process.
Easily recognised is the impossibility of trying to remember someone's name at a party, and the associated difficulty of trying to introduce such a person to your partner.
Struggling with new technology - email, iPod, anything invented since 1990 - provides further challenges.
Ephron lists the people she met that she remembers nothing about, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Groucho Marx, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Some list.
Ephron's background gives a clue to her illustrious list of forgotten encounters. Now approaching 70, she was born in New York to American Jewish screenwriters, and rubbed shoulders with the cream of New York society.
Screenwriting was a family profession in which Ephron followed, eventually including Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie & Julia.
The humour in these films is reflected in I Remember Nothing. Ephron's journalism training ("never start with a quote, never use anything but 'said"'), will strike a chord with anyone in the profession. Her opinions on egg-white omelettes (bad for you, or at least not necessarily health-improving), Teflon (really bad for you), and restaurant waiters who interrupt a good story right before the punch line to ask if everything is all right. "No, it's not," according to Ephron. "You ruined the punch line. Go away." But she doesn't say this aloud.
Chicken soup may give you a cold, suggests Ephron. You feel a cold coming on, you make and eat chicken soup, you get the cold anyway. So is it possible that the chicken soup gives you the cold?
Ephron writes movingly about separation and divorce. She was pregnant with her second child when she realised her husband, Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, was having an affair. Her description of her grief and rage is painful and poignant.
I Remember Nothing finishes on a high note, if viewing the end of your life can be so described. Ephron's lists of things she will miss (waffles, the concept of waffles, her kids, bacon, the bed, butter, Paris) and won't miss (dry skin, bad dinners, email, dead flowers, vacuuming, small print) are universal and beguiling.
Although I Remember Nothing appears to be a women's read, it is not. It provides solace for everyone who finds themselves in this situation, and stands as a salutory lesson for those who don't.
Phoebe Falconer is a Herald columnist.