JUNE 27, 2012 3:21PM

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I enjoyed When Harry Met Sally.  I found Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail a bit sugary for my taste. I didn’t really fall for Nora Ephron  until Julie and Julia. I loved that movie. I don’t make movies, so I don’t know exactly how her directing contributed to the movie. Meryl Streep was a great Julia Child, but then again she’s been great as a lot of characters. Amy Adams I didn’t know. Maybe she’s naturally great too.

 I do write. I found Nora Ephron’s screenplay deeply inspiring. Like a cut of meat that an expert cook had taken her knife to, she trimmed away every morsel of fat. Every line had me laughing, or nodding my head as I got another aspect of one of the characters. I shook my head at the deftness with which she wove the two stories together, with juicy transitions that transcended the merely clever, delivering the shock of delight that comes when you feel lines and characters sprout wings and take flight –into the realm of story.

Julie and Julia both captivated me. But what won my heart was that story. And its creator.

When I saw the movie in 2009 I was five years into the grueling task of writing my memoir. I started with no experience writing, so   any book would have been difficult to do. This one was that much harder because I’d set the goal so high. I not only wanted to write a coming-of-age, father-son memoir, but wanted to weave in the history of the late 1960s –a perilous era that for some reason has defeated most comers, whether in book or film.

In preparing to write my book I read over fifty published memoirs. It should have given me pause. For the vast majority of them were deeply flawed. Rambling. Too long. Whining, with unsympathetic characters. And worst, boring. I eventually learned that this was not necessarily the fault of the writers. That using yourself and your life as a subject is difficult. It’s almost impossible to find the right narrative distance, and to discern what is going to be interesting to a reader. If you are a typical writer, you are narcissistic enough that your life is intrinsically fascinating. That is usually not the case for your reader.

If Julie and Julia had been fiction it would have been a considerable feat. But Nora created it from two real life stories. Though in blog form, Julie’s was essentially like mine – a memoir. Julia’s was a biography of the first great public cook. Taking the immutable facts of these stories, Nora spun nothing short of narrative magic. Her story flowed, surprised and dazzled - like a good novel.

So I looked at my own task and took heart. If Nora Ephron could blissfully marry the stories of Julie and Julia, I could weave my father, me and the 60s into something that people would enjoy reading.   




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Nora was and is one of the greats... Julie and Julia is a fine example of her best work.
I mourn her loss today.. Julie and Julia is one of my fave movies of hers.
I just don't think anyone can just do stuff like this..
But she could!
Luminous, I love this movie too.. This movie is my way into Salon, and I have grown with movies from Nora and so many more. This was such a beautiful read, to me. Rated with thank you, while my most favourite is Harry and Sally.
I liked Julie and Julia, probably because of Streep and my fondness for Julia Child. I still laugh at the SNL bit with Dan Ackyrod cutting himself. She was smart, funny and beautiful and she is gone too soon!
Julie and Julia brought me to OS too! I figured I'd have my book deal by now :) I can relate to this post in so many ways - memoir is hard. I cannot imagine the difficulty of Nora's task at that screenplay, but admire her feat. R
Actually I have never seen this move, as I was never a "Julia Childs" fan - but am a Nora Ephron fan, so I believe I will. As I struggle to write my own memoir, I will take heart that you are taking heart. & I can't wait to read yours.
Have you tried reading 'Heartburn'? One of the best in the memoir genre IMHO. I agree about the 'sugary', too, but - sometimes I love sugary, and no one did it better.
Have you tried reading 'Heartburn'? One of the best in the memoir genre IMHO. I agree about the 'sugary', too, but - sometimes I love sugary, and no one did it better.
I LOVE Julie & Julia with the rest of the films. 

Great writing in Julie & Julia. Great writing here too.
That movie brought me here too! I wonder what Julie is doing now?
Luminous, when I met Julie & Julia, I then came here, in OS, and I am only wondering how many of us have Nora Ephron, as this imaginary bridge, that not only brought us here, but gave us the chance to make friends. I agree with Zanelle, and with you in your great tribute. Your work, means a lot to me. Rated.
Anticipating your memoir with all the more enthusiasm, John. I loved Julie/Julia, tho had forgotten Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay. Nobody's mentioned Heartburn in these eulogies yet, that I've seen. I especially enjoyed it because of my admiration for Bernstein's work and reputation.
Great account Luminous. I'm with you on all four of the movies you cite though my aversion to high doses of sugar may exceed yours. I saw J&J after I started here and was surprised by the OS reference. Although I enjoyed the Julia segments a bit more, the Julie ones held their own. It's quite the knack to be able to successfully pull off parallel stories like that.
I remember distinctly when julia/julia movie came out, the amazing influx of bloggers here whose 1st blog was something along the lines, that they saw the movie, liked it, and wanted to start blogging. I think Salon is mentioned by name in the movie as I recall, although I dont recall if Open Salon was mentioned.... maybe someone can post a youtube clip, that would be great.
anyway, to put it clearly, that is the remarkable aspect of the movie-- that is based on a true story that actually happened on open salon. alas, julie powells old blogs are no longer here... I wonder if they're on some other site?
Julie & Julia was one of those under-rated movies (by critics) that just gets more popular with fans. I love it, too, for all sorts of reasons, but especially because of Meryl Streep, my longtime admiration for Julia Child, and that great script by Nora Ephron. I've been mourning Nora all day (even wrote an ode to her for Talking Writing), and I've been thinking about how much I wanted to watch Julie & Julia again -- but it's funny that I didn't even remember the Open Salon angle until reading your post. Synchronicities and sadnesses. Thanks, John.

P.S. I recommend Ephron's Heartburn, too (though not the movie made from it). It's a great memoir about being pissed off.
I loved "Julie & Julia," too! Meryl Streep was divine in that movie. And Stanley Tucci - I just wanted to pinch his cheeks, he's so adorable. Amy Adams is from Colorado, not far from where I live, so she has a built-in fan base in my state. But she truly is a gifted actress, not to mention gorgeous. ... Here are some memoirs I enjoyed reading just because they were so beautifully written:

--The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer
--All Over But the Shoutin', by Rick Bragg
--The Liar's Club, by Mary Kerr

I have no doubt you can do it. As for the movie, I enjoyed the Julia Child's portion...and thought the Julie character lacked character, but who COULD measure up to the real Julia Child or Meryl Streep as Julia Child?

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