I read Heartburn years ago. After Ephron died in 2012, her good friend, Meryl Streep, narrated an audiobook version. Since I adore Streep, I had to listen.
Heartburn is a classic. First published in 1983, it is a barely-fictionalized retelling of Ephron’s divorce from the journalist Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame. Ephron was an uber-articulate woman and incredibly talented writer, and the book is hysterical. The audiobook in Streep’s hands? Even more so. Meryl Streep may well simply have been that into her friend’s saga, but she is also that talented.
So the process of listening to Streep alone was a joy. And then there is Heartburn, and I use the present tense here, because I find the book to be as relevant today as when it was written thirty-five years ago.
Take Ephron’s description of a Jewish-American prince. “Where’s the butter?” she cites as this guy’s classic question, and she goes on to elaborate on what he’s really asking, as well as slight variations on this theme. But hey, Jewish men aren’t the only ones to ask this question. Have you never heard it? In my house, it’s “Where’s the cream?”
And Ephron’s rhapsody on cooking? “Melt butter in pan, add flour, then stock – and it thickens,” Streep reads slowly and in that melodious voice of hers. “It thickens. Always. In a world of uncertainly, this is certain. It. Thickens,” Ephron writes and Steep reads and while I may be paraphrasing here, since it’s tough to check back for exact wording in an audiobook, I hear them both.
The book is short, only six hours, but with little gems like these thrown in, I’d listen all over again. Actually, now that I have Streep’s voice in my head, I may just buy the print version and read it again!