Review: 'I Remember Nothing' by Nora Ephron is by turns boring, brilliant

It's good to be Nora Ephron. You can get Meryl Streep, who once played a fictionalized version of you, to star as Julia Child in your movie and no one will think to ask why, when you had Meryl Streep, you didn't just toss the boring-blogger conceit and make a full-on Julia Child feature.

When you're Nora Ephron, you are more than a person, or a writer; you're an intellectual brand, the rom-com. Yes, there have been flops, but you wrote When Harry Met Sally . . ., so everything that happens to you becomes worthy of note.

When you're Nora Ephron, you can throw together two or three moderately fine pieces, stretch them out with an assortment of previously published minirants and a few unforgivably lazy lists — "What I Will Miss," "What I Won't Miss" — and see how high it will debut on bestseller lists.

What I like about I Remember Nothing:

• "Journalism: A Love Story," a wonderfully evocative portrait of the 1960s and '70s in New York print journalism and how joyfully difficult it was to become Nora Ephron.

• "Pentimento," not because it involves the still-controversial Lillian Hellman, but because Ephron precisely captures how dangerous admiration can be to both parties.

• Ephron's voice. When I was just out of college, I worked at Ms. magazine and all my friends and I wanted to be Nora Ephron. She turned her divorce into a wise and hilarious novel. She wrote about food before everyone was a foodie. She was smarter, darker and funnier than Anna Quindlen. Ephron's voice helped launch a whole new way of writing, and I love to hear it.

What I didn't like: Almost everything else. There are pieces on aging and bald spots; the book opens with riffs on memory loss. They're not terrible, but they feel as if some big-name editor said, "Whatever you want to write, I'm sure it will be great" and Ephron said, "Sure, here's 800 words." The words may be better than the average — heck, most any — blogger could conjure. But you're not just any blogger. You're Nora Ephron.

I Remember Nothing And Other Reflections

By Nora

Ephron

Alfred A. Knopf, 142 pages, $22.95

Review: 'I Remember Nothing' by Nora Ephron is by turns boring, brilliant 11/27/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:23pm]

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