Today’s prompt is Has a book changed your life?
Don’t they all?
The book I am currently reading is The Most of Nora Ephron. I’m only 75 pages in and feel myself changing and it’s not because it’s a “must read.” So far I have vacillated between feeling intrigued or annoyed.
I feel intrigued because Ephron’s writing (and I’m only in the “journalism” section of her career) is insightful, humorous and historical. She sharply defends journalism and photojournalism and it’s clear she was a total professional.
I feel annoyed because the late writer was first a journalist and this 557-page collection is filled with hyperbole and repetition.
That’s not Ephron’s fault. The book, published posthumously, is the result of editors who, on the inside cover of the book jacket, put the following copy:
A WHOPPING BIG CELEBRATION of the work of the late, great Nora Eprhon, America's funniest--and most acute--writer...
On page 13, Ephron mocks journalists who “exaggerate the significance of the cover subject.”
Come on, editors!
I’m also annoyed because on page 7 she writes about Theodore H. White, a former Time writer and the author of the book Making of the President 1960. She says he wrote that President John F. Kennedy’s favorite soup was tomato with a glop of sour cream and, as a result, she started eating it. That’s great, but on page 52, she criticizes White for his “infuriating style of repeating phrases over and over again later in his life.” Then, in the same paragraph, she says, “President Kennedy liked to eat tomato soup with sour cream in it for lunch.”
I understand that the book was published posthumously but in the intro, Robert Gottleib writes that he and Ephron worked together two years before she died to establish the table of contents for the book. I’m confident I’ll finish the book but I’m also confident I’m going to feel peeved along the way. That’s fine because that’s part of the growing pain I associate with reading and changing.
Epron writes that she suspects that the internet is a place for content to run alongside ads. But, again only 75 pages in, the book is filled with ads for Time, Newseek, The New York Times, The Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post. In other words, so far it’s a giant ad for Big Media. Journalists will tell you they know “the story” but I’ll argue they only know their story and their culture. I’ll even go so far as to say most never write beyond a press release.
Who run the world? PR!
(PR = Press Releases and Public Relations.)
There is a third PR that is more important the press releases and public relations: Personal Resistance. That’s what reading builds in me. A resistance to other people telling me what the story is.
And let’s not forget the fourth PR: Pitiful Repetition.
Come on, editors!
Barring tragedy, I’ll always read the paper and listen to the news. I’ll always read books and listen to podcasts. I’m not a news junkie per se. I’m merely trying to figure what the hell the truth is and make the choices that are best for the people I love. The best way to do that? Read.
Until then, here’s a Beyonce’s take on who runs the world. I only wish it were true.
Thanks for reading.