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Wallflower at the Orgy

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,307 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
From her Academy Award—nominated screenplays to her bestselling fiction and essays, Nora Ephron is one of America’s most gifted, prolific, and versatile writers. In this classic collection of magazine articles, Ephron does what she does best: embrace American culture with love, cynicism, and unmatched wit. From tracking down the beginnings of the self-help movement to dres ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Bantam (first published 1970)
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Moms are Nuts by Amy VansantWeird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen CampbellDogshit Saved My Life by Karl WigginsCalico Jack in your Garden by Karl WigginsF in Exams by Richard Benson
Best Humorous Non-Fiction
89th out of 246 books — 177 voters
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster WallaceI Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora EphronSlouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan DidionTeaching a Stone to Talk by Annie DillardThe Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Beyond David Sedaris: Essay Collections
21st out of 126 books — 34 voters

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Community Reviews

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Carla Stafford
Jul 09, 2015 Carla Stafford rated it it was ok
I like Nora Ephron.

In spite of the comical title, Wallflower at the Orgy is not the least bit funny. I SHOULD have stopped reading-but, well...I am not a quitter... What Wallflower at the Orgy IS-is a collection of articles Nora Ephron wrote for Glamour the sixties and seventies. It isn't that they are poorly written...but half the time I had no idea who she was writing about. I imagine that when these articles were originally collected and reprinted as a volume that they were exce
Moira Russell
More mannered and dated than Crazy Salad, for me her standout nonfiction collection (I've heard Scribble Scribble highly praised, but it's been out of print for decades, used copies are really expensive, and the recent Kindle "omnibus" is incomplete). Altho the book is supposedly at least somewhat in defense of kitsch, there's no philosophical framework other than "I like fashion and fripperies," which is fine, but kind of shallow given Ephron's other, amazing essays on the Pillsbury Bake-Off an ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Sometime last year, I read Nora Ephron's fantastic book Crazy Salad, which was a collection of columns she had written in the 1970s for various magazines. I loved that book and her writing. Even though the essays were dated, I enjoyed her wit and writing style. After all, Ms. Ephron is the genius behind When Harry Met Sally. After finishing Crazy Salad, I went on to read Scribble Scribble (collections of her columns about the media), I Feel Bad About My Neck (more recent book; focusing primarily ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Kira rated it liked it
I suppose in part because of the author’s recent death, I find it difficult to say anything bad about Wallflower at the Orgy, which was a short and predictable collection of classic Ephron ruminations—on fashion, on people, on New York, etc. But even my main critique—that the book is a little too referential to withstand the test of time—turned out to be only partially true.

Helen Gurley Brown, legendary editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and the subject of one of the essays in Wallflower, passed aw
Sep 25, 2012 Betsy rated it liked it
The topics are a little out-of-date since this is a collection of Nora Ephron's work from the 1960's but it's entertaining to read about once-or-stillfamous people like Arthur Frommer (of the Europe on $5-a-day budget travel guides outdated is that?; Cosmo Editor Helen Gurley Brown (who oddly, died about the same time as Nora); thethen-young director Mike Nichols (directing a haughty Orson Wells in "Catch-22") and the writing of Aryn Rand (which GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan may re-populariz ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Oct 01, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intelligent women
Nora Ephron's first collection of columns, while not quite rising to the level of her brilliant Scribble, Scribble: Notes on the Media or I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, proves greatly entertaining. Her articles, all originally published in magazines in 1968 or 1969, are all interesting, particularly the looks at Women's Wear Daily when it was still the bitchy record of the Ladies Who Lunch, before it atrophied into WWD, at the bloviating Ayn Rand, and at the rise ...more
Beth Gordon
Jan 03, 2013 Beth Gordon rated it liked it
I found myself slogging through this book at a snail's pace. Nora Ephron is a fine writer. She does say early on that she's a succinct writer, and then she goes to ramble on more than needed (IMHO) in her essays.

The topics were dated. She had a whole essay on Rod McKuen. I have no idea who he is; he supposedly sang and wrote poetry back in the 1960s as far as I could tell based on the essay. Well, he either had a career that ended in the 1960s or early 1970s, or I live under a rock. It could be
This is a collection of Ephron's writings from the late 60s. Unfortunately, I just can't relate to these articles the way I could to her memoirs, which I really enjoyed. I think readers who remember this period in time will be able to appreciate what she had to say about contemporary things while they were happening. Having just been born in the late 60s I didn't care so much about men's fashion and Erich Segal's 'Love Story' and felt the whole collection lacked what, grew to be, her signature s ...more
Anne Green
Mar 22, 2014 Anne Green rated it it was ok
I was drawn to this book because I like Nora Ephron's witty, self-deprecating style and also because one of the articles deals at length with the "foodie" scene in the 1960s, (in which I'm very interested) but which seems a world away now and featured such luminaries as Julia Child, James Beard, Judith Jones and others. Renowned as a talented journalist and story teller, Nora Ephron has written much better stuff than this. As she herself admits in the introduction to the collection, written some ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Megankellie rated it really liked it
What a delightful book from a delightful writer. Read the intro/prologue deal. Normally that is NEVER TRUE/NEVER A GOOD IDEA since the stories are ruined or someone tells a boring story about wheat in Berlin or how page 68 doesn't read the same when you are not in Madrid in 1930. But this one is great and she talks about working at the NY Post and how the editors changed her writing drastically. Her introductions to her articles are fun and interesting. The article about Mike Nichols is terrific ...more
Saba Imtiaz
Aug 27, 2015 Saba Imtiaz rated it really liked it
I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to reading Nora Ephron's essays, but I'm so glad I finally did. Wallflower at the Orgy is a brilliant collection of Ephron's work - her profiles of Helen Gurley Brown and WWD are the standout pieces - and highlight not just how good she was at picking up on the mood and cultural trends in a time and place, but also all the insecurities and doubts her characters have.
Mar 10, 2016 Lynette rated it liked it
Ephron is possibly my favorite author still writing today. I'll search out her blogs, ANYTHING she's written. I've been reading her since the seventies and am in awe of her talent. However, I think that I should have read the book at a slower pace or the order of the essays should have been more varied, because while I loved the first 3/4 of the book, the last two or three articles were no longer quite as amusing. She does do a better job when she is either panning someone or even trying to make ...more
Katie Dreyer
Jan 28, 2016 Katie Dreyer rated it really liked it
Nora Ephron's first collection of essays is witty, sardonic, and absolutely delightful to read. In the introduction to the book, Ephron writes how during an interview someone once asked her why people should care about Helen Gurley Brown (then-editor of Cosmopolitan magazine) or makeovers or new movies when there were wars going on. Ephron's response was that while she did of course care about the war in Vietnam, about women's rights, and about rising poverty, she also cared about magazines, abo ...more
Meghan C.
Sep 04, 2014 Meghan C. rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviews
So...Hmm. This book wasn't what I was expecting at all. Mostly because it feels like a nothing book. And from Nora Ephron I was expecting SOMETHING. What that something was, I couldn't have told you, having never read any of her writing previously. But who among us hasn't watched When Harry Met Sally one or seventy-five times? I've heard all the accolades. When she passed away in 2012 I was enchanted with her oft quoted commencement speech from Wellesley College. I went into this book full of hi ...more
Danielle Mohlman
May 08, 2014 Danielle Mohlman rated it it was ok
This was my first Ephron and I think that I may need to try one more before I make any decisions about how I feel about her as a writer. Wallflower at the Orgy was a great change of pace for me and it was a well-chosen travel book. I read the first half waiting for and then on my train from Washington, DC to BWI and another chunk while eating a soft pretzel and waiting for my plane to board. I chipped away at the rest of it between outings with my family and showing Jeremy where I grew up. I rea ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it
This collection of articles and interviews from the 1960s perfectly captures the journalistic mood of the period and they are a fun read. I lived through the period -- it may not appeal to a younger generation.
Aug 05, 2015 Michel rated it liked it
Shelves: cultures, shorts
As usual, witty and deliciously written.
But God what we were obsessed with back then!!!
A quite unwelcome look in the rearview mirror…
I bailed on this about halfway through the first section. I was doing it as an audio book, and perhaps it's just not a book that works well in that format. To be fair, it was published in the 1970's, and many of the people she was talking about were relevant then, but as I was a young child and not familiar with them then or now, wasn't too interesting to me. Skip this unless you want to know more about the "food scene" of the '70's (I guess)! My fault for assuming that since Ephron wrote it it ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Mandy rated it it was amazing
Perhaps it's because of my age this is my favorite collection of Nora Ephron essays. Not yet THE Nora Ephron when she wrote these profiles, she frequently had to write around her subjects but managed to still be incisive and insightful. In this collection she explains the appeal of Cosmopolitan and Helen Gurley Brown's "Plain Girl Power" and how young readers can be seduced by Ayn Rand because they are "young enough to miss the point." If one enjoys trash and doesn't yet feel bad about their nec ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Stephanie rated it liked it
I'm just gonna give it 3 stars although it's probably 3.5. I was pleasantly surprised by Ephron's past writing. She's quick, clever, and really funny. I enjoyed the work of her later years ("Neck," "Remember Nothing") but these early articles are really zippy. Besides, I enjoyed reading about subjects and obsessions that were in the public consciousness during my toddler-hood. I mean, Rod McKuen? Bill Blass? Love Story? Do these things even come up anymore? Reading about them was a hoot.
Oct 28, 2012 Ria rated it really liked it
I knew Nora Ephron as a screenwriter and filmmaker, but I was unaware of her literary output until I read various obituaries following her death earlier this year. Wallflower at the Orgy is the first book of hers I have read and won't be the last.

Firstly, what an awesome title. It is explained in the Introduction (and sort of recanted in the Preface to the 1980 edition) and beautifully captures the theme running through many of the articles, the observation of remarkable people doing wonderful/s
erin g
Sep 03, 2007 erin g rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of out-of-date pop-cultural references?
i am of the opinion (and don't think i'm totally off-base in thinking) that a book that is just sitting there on the new release shelf at the library is either no good at all (because if it was, shouldn't there be a miles-long hold request list for it?) or an undiscovered gem. this book is neither...though it is more gem than worthless.

i picked it up because the title was catchy, i vaguely recognized the author's name from somewhere, it was quite thin, and i needed some books to garnish the stac
Mary Kay
Nov 29, 2014 Mary Kay rated it liked it
I am a true fan of Nora Ephron. She is funny, witty, insightful and brutally honest. This book was a compilation of some of her early articles for the Washington Post. Most were entertaining and illuminating, but did not contain her razor-sharp observations that she developed later in her career. The article she wrote about Mike Nichols was especially moving, made even more poignant because I was listening to it on the day he passed away.
David Donald
Aug 07, 2014 David Donald is currently reading it
Well I bogged down and never got back to it. It has been a weird year.
I HAVE read:
Agatha Raisin and the quiche of death
Between a Heart and a Rock place, Pat Benetar
Beyond Paradise; the life of Roman Novarro
Fieldwork: a novel
They Eat Puppies, Don't they?
Hedy's Folly, the life and breakthrough inventions of Hedy Lamarr
Minor Wife, Lost In Rangoon, ( Vincent Calvino novels)
Roger Williams and the creation of the American soul.
Top Secret Twentyone Stephanie Plum
Wicked Business
The Prince by Macchiavell
Katie Christian
Mar 24, 2015 Katie Christian rated it it was ok
Nora Ephron is really hit or miss with me. This collection was just too dated, and too industry-centric to peak my interest fully. The very last essay - her interview with Mike Nichols, was my favorite, and most of the material was provided by Mr. Nichols! I found the Cosmopolitan and the Hamptons pieces a bit insulting. Everyone that does not live in New York is not a toothless yokel and I have very little patience for that patronizing tone in writing.
Mar 11, 2016 Relyn rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hmmmm... I'll get back to you on that one.
Recommended to Relyn by: Nora Ephron
Shelves: audiobooks, memoir
Let me be frank. I read this book because of the amazingly delicious title. An added bonus was that I loved I Feel Bad About My Neck. This book wasn't Neck. Not nearly as funny.

I thought Wallflower at the Orgy was an interesting time capsule. Nobody really writes that like anymore. These magazine articles were long. I mean looooonnnnggg. They held my attention because they illuminated a different time, a different way of living and thinking really. However, not enough to plow through if I hadn'
Feb 02, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldntfinish
Well, this is probably my least favorite Nora Ephron anything, and it takes a lot for me to say that because I love her and don't want to dislike anything of hers.

Obviously put this on the list after her sad death last year, and waited forever for it from the library. It's a collection of some of her very early essays, written in like 1969ish, and let's just say her style got dramatically pithier and funnier as time wore on. There are certainly interesting things - to hear about the POV of life
Apr 07, 2014 Gwen rated it it was ok
Shelves: culture
I think I might be Nora Ephron-ed out...or this book feels incredibly dated. Maybe if you lived through the 1960s and 1970s, Wallflower at the Orgy would be more meaningful, but chapters about people I didn't know, movies I've never seen, or magazines that are largely irrelevant today make for a collection of essays that just didn't work for me.

Excellent title, though.
Dec 18, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
Just listened to this one and didn't like it as well as many of Nora Ephron's books. I guess I expecting more humor. She mentions a lot of famous people that she worked with or wrote about or was friends with but I don't know how much that would mean to a younger reader who wouldn't know who a lot of them were. It did bring back memories of the 60' & 70's for me.
Jan 29, 2014 Malia rated it really liked it
I love Nora Ephron more than I can even put into words--though, if I asked HER to put it into words, I have no doubt she would have woven a beautiful sentence out of how much I lover her writing, since she had such a gift with them. But of course, she was much too humble for that.

I loved this collection of articles she had written for magazines in the 60's, especially the ones about food writers, Helen Gurley Brown, and Mike Nichols. Smart, funny, and enriching, every Nora Ephron enthusiast shou
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Nora Ephron was an American film director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, and blogger.

She was best known for her romantic comedies and is a triple nominee for the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay; for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally... and Sleepless in Seattle. She sometimes wrote with her sister, Delia Ephron.
More about Nora Ephron...

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“The image of the journalist as wallflower at the orgy has been replaced by the journalist as the life of the party.” 11 likes
“I love trash. I have never believed that kitsch kills. I tell you this, so you will understand that my antipathy toward 'Love Story' is not because I am immune to either sentimentality or garbage, two qualities the book possesses in abundance. When I read 'Love Story', and I cried, in much the same way that I cry from onions, involuntarily and with great irritation, I was deeply offended...” 1 likes
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