Vale Nora. You were one of those writers who sounded so confiding, so intimate that I thought of you as a friend I’d never met- and that was before Facebook exploited and devalued that concept.
I loved Heartburn. Think it was the first novel I ever read that interrupted the narrative to give readers a recipe. What a trend that started! Can anyone remember any other novelist doing this before Nora? She made writing about frivolous subjects like handbags seem important rather than trivial. She made you laugh at her neuroses because of course they were yours too and suddenly you felt it was ok to be highly strung and anxious and worried about superficial things. I Feel Bad About My Neck was such a perfect title for her collection of essays – that admission of insecurity hit a bull’s eye for so many women.
Nora was one of those writers that you fantasize about becoming your New Best Friend.
I’d imagine going to interview her in New York; after an intense and candid conversation she’d insist I stay for dinner and she’d make some heavenly chicken soup with the proper little jewish dumplings bobbing around in it , while I chatted casually with her husband Nick Pileggi, who happens to have written the scripts for some of the best Scorsese movies (Goodfellas, for example ). Then a few friends would drop, by the usual gang, Woody, Tina, Meryl and we’d laugh a lot and tell jokes and she’d say, why don’t you move out of your hotel and come stay for a few days and then we’d all go to the Hamptons for the weekend…. sorry I got carried away.
To quote just two pearls of wisdom from the list of things she wishes she’d known:
You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters
You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 pm
I hope the New Yorker publishes your To Do lists or any other scraps of paper you left lying around. I’ll miss you.