cover image Loose Diamonds... and Other Things I've Lost (and Found) Along the Way

Loose Diamonds... and Other Things I've Lost (and Found) Along the Way

Amy Ephron. Morrow, $19.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-195874-8

Novelist Ephron (and sister of Nora, Delia, and Hallie) has some colorful and memorable decades under her belt, which she gives a glimpse of in this essay collection. As a child, she befriends neighbor and famed architect Stiles Oliver Clements, who was the largest collector of tropical birds on the continent. He builds a habitat at home that Ephron visits during one magical summer. She briefly alludes to her mother's mental illness, but it goes unexplored beyond a mention of a teenage Ephron seeing her posh and polished mother duck into a seedy bar one day. In 1971, during the Manson trial, as an aspiring writer of 19, she interviews "Squeaky" Fromme, a Manson follower, at the "Family" ranch. When she goes into labor with her first child, she has the surreal pleasure of sharing her room with Elizabeth Taylor's daughter-in-law, with Taylor and her dog in tow. There's the considerably less glamorous, showbiz part of her L.A. life. Her second marriage produced a postmodern, blended family with multiple children from each spouse's first marriage. The book's tone is entertainingly breezy, but lacks depth. The seeming randomness and paucity of material makes the slim volume feel like a dry run for a longer work. (Sept.)