I have nothing personal against Nora Ephron, but I do not understand why all the news outlets are pretending that her death is in any way significant. A sometimes amusing satirist–though the frequent comparison with Dorothy Parker is ludicrous–and a writer of really terrible fiction and screenplays, Ephron may have been best known for her failed marriage to Carl Bernstein and the nasty spiteful revenge she took by writing Heartburn. That’s the book, I believe, where she described her husband as so oversexed he would make it with venetian blinds. In high school, that would have been a funny line.
Is this really it, what American literature comes down to in the New Millennium? A combination of maudlin sentimentality (Sleepless in Seattle) and adolescent impudence? Ephron’s scripts–I’ve endured them on transatlantic flights–sound like an unending episode of MASH. Even on my worst days and in my blackest moods, I would never have suggested that Ephron was anything but a lower-middle-brow entertainer, somewhere in the American cultural pantheon between Bill Kristol and Billy Crystal. Well, to paraphrase Ephron on religion, I guess you can never have too much schmaltz.