Delia Ephron,
Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog, etc.
(Plume, 2014)

No matter what she accomplishes in her life, Delia Ephron will always be best known as Nora's sister. Both sisters were writers, both were filmmakers, both were lifelong New Yorkers and, for some reason, Nora's light always burned brighter.

In this book, a group of personal essays exploring everything from her mother to her banking problems in Manhattan, from neighborhood bakeries to the problems of collaborating with another person. When she isn't front and center, Nora hangs in the background like a talking photo on the wall at Hogwart's.

In fact, the opening essays, "Losing Nora," is about having to come to terms with the death of her older sister. She details the anger, the "shimmering rage" she went through, and she talks about how her sister was her role model, how she longed for compliments from her, how important her approval was to her.

Delia pops up throughout, even in the most innocuous of pieces. For example, most of the essay, "Collaboration" is mostly about the difficulty Nora had writing a movie with Delia. Both sisters could be feisty, defensive, protective of their work and hilarious.

In fact, Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog, etc. is, despite its bite, a very funny book. Delia Ephron writes with a light touch; no matter how deep the subject, Ephron finds the funny in it. She knows how complex every idea and issue is and she writes simply and straightforwardly without losing the complexity, of which humor is a strong part.

Reading her is like having lunch with an old friend who wants to bring you up to date on her news.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

21 March 2015

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