cover image Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc.

Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc.

Delia Ephron. Blue Rider, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-16655-6

“Life is such a jumble,” writes Ephron in one of many blunt essays from her fourth collection, a phrase that aptly describes these reflections on the monumental and the mundane. The lighter fare—including a spirited poem about bad hair days and a charming appreciation of her dog, a small white Havanese named Honey—plays second fiddle to the real drama: her relationship with sister Nora and their partnership on projects such as the film You’ve Got Mail and the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Many readers will be curious about Delia’s take on her more famous sister, who was “ruthless as a writer” and the model for a “wildly opinionated, wildly successful, self-centered older sister” in her novel Hanging Up. The most insightful pieces, however, focus on Delia’s personal transformation: after her “walkabout” 20s, she became a novelist and screenwriter in a happy second marriage. The wisdom in these essays is gentler, and the jokes are warmer, balancing the brittle humor Delia succumbs to when describing Nora’s power plays and their mother’s dictums on how to be an Ephron (i.e., a writer who worships success). Although many details will be familiar to Delia’s fans, the mix here mirrors the comforting jumble of real life, with jewels, junk, and everything else thrown in, creating a down-to-earth intimacy that is classic Ephron. (Sept.)