February 12, 2008

I always buy books for my family for Xmas. There’s even a family story about my book-gifting habits. For several years I would gather the family together for a big book-buying trip to Powell’s in November. We’d return home with a grocery bag, sometimes two, filled with books and then the books would go into hiding until Xmas. Then, a couple of years ago my youngest, while opening a gift book, commented that it was really quite amazing that Dad thought that these books were some kind of surprise gift given that everyone was present when they had been purchased. Oh well. The (inept) dreams of Dads.

Heartburn has an inept Dad in it, but the story isn’t about him, so let’s save that for a bit. I bought the book for my wife for Xmas, but I was a little wiser this year. I went shopping by myself. I also saved a bunch of money by buying used books at the Title Wave bookstore.

Heartburn is by Nora Ephron. She writes such funny films (I didn’t know it until today, but Heartburn was turned into a movie) and gives such great interviews on the radio, I figured the book would be funny. Heartburn isn’t something my wife has been laughing about lately, but I took a chance on Nora.

Dear Nora,

Please make my wife laugh. It’s been one of the grayest and wettest winters in Portland in a long time.

A hopeful admirer in Oregon

It worked. My wife laughed and tossed it on my book pile, but said, “I don’t know if you will laugh.” Fair warning, but the book is thin and I took a chance. Parts are very funny. And it grows on you.

So what about that inept Dad? Heartburn is about a pregnant mother whose marriage is breaking up because her husband can’t keep it zipped. When she finds out about the affair, she leaves home (Washington DC) and takes refuge at her father’s apartment (New York) where the husband of the mistress shows up, followed almost immediately by the heroine’s Dad, a retired actor. Got that?

What am I going to do?” I said. I started to sob. My father gave a little nod to Jonathan Rice, a little move-over-Buster-you’re-in-the-way nod, and Jonathan untangled himself and stood up and my father sat down and tangled himself, and I shook and heaved and wheezed and snorted all over his sweatsuit. My father said a lot of terrific daddy things to me that made me cry even harder, partly because the dialogue was completely lifted from an obsure Dan Dailey movie he’d played a pediatrician in, and partly because he neveretheless delivered the lines so very well.

Who says Dads can’t deliver?


One Response to “Heartburn”

  1. WaiMin said

    Oh. That is such an interesting tradition you and your family practice, I really respect it.!

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