Nora Ephron, whose many titles included journalist, playwright and director, passed away yesterday from complications related to Leukemia at the age of 71--by any measure, far too young.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess I'm not a not a huge admirer of her recent films, which I’ve found by turns grating (“Julie & Julia”) and insipid (“Bewitched”). One could make a compelling argument that “You’ve Got Mail,” a romantic comedy in which Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love on AOL and squabble over a bookstore, is the most dated movie of the last 15 years. Brick and mortar shops are now endangered species, and even Ephron herself recently conceded that there’s nothing romantic whatsoever about email. Fairly or not, I often find myself conflating her work with Nancy Franklin—another writer/director who seems to trade in stories about not-so-secretly entitled white women.
But back in the heyday of Didion and Sontag, Ephron was a pioneer—a real-life "Rhoda" whose essays and journalism at publications like New York Magazine and Esquire helped usher in a new era of neo-feminism. Her movies were pretty great too. Setting aside her sturdy collaborations with Mike Nichols, “When Harry Met Sally” remains a part of the cultural lexicon twenty years later, and “Sleepless in Seattle” created a new kind of template for the Hollywood romantic comedy. Ephron’s writing has inspired countless authors, from essayist Sloane Crosley to HBO’s new “it” girl, Lena Dunham. Open Salon wants to know how she has inspired you.
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