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Posts Tagged ‘Archie’

Nora Ephron’s Potato-Chip Legacy

June 28, 2012 | by

In April The Believer declared Nora Ephron “the original Tina Fey.” This week, an obituary on The Daily Beast said that she was bigger than Twain. Both superlatives gloss over the fact that Ephron’s work was widely reviled (a Village Voice review of Bewitched even argued that “the Ephrons should have to sharecrop, for all the good they've done for the culture”) and that, even for Ephron devotees, part of the charm of seeing her latest flick was wondering whether it’d be typical Burbank dung (Mixed Nuts! Michael!) or a piece of deathless Hollywood legend.

Ephron kept dice in her purse, was willing to “teach almost anyone how to play craps at a moment’s notice,” and her writing had a gambler’s unevenness. The rambling digressiveness, along with the faint datedness, of her worldview only intensified your shock when Ephron arrived, seemingly by accident, at an incisive thought. Here she is in her 1983 roman à clef Heartburn, recounting a speech she often made while preparing Lillian Hellman’s pot roast recipe:

I have no problem with her political persona, or with her insistence on making herself the centerpiece of most of the historical conflicts of the twentieth century; but it seems to me that she invented a romantic fantasy about her involvement with Dashiell Hammett that is every bit as unrealistic as the Doris Day movies feminists prefer to blame for society’s unrealistic notions about romance … it occurred to me as I delivered [the speech] yet another time that I had always zipped through that part of the speech as if I had somehow managed to be invulnerable to the fantasy, as if I had somehow managed to escape from or rise above it simply as a result of having figured it out. I think you often have that sense when you write—that if you can spot something in yourself and set it down on paper, you’re free of it.

As someone who was corn-fed on her movies as a child, the passage seems eerily prophetic. Seeing Ephron gab about “unrealistic notions about romance” in 1983 is rather like hearing those reports that the young L. Ron Hubbard told friends, “If you want to get rich, you start a religion”—and it hints at the nagging contradictions of Nora Ephron’s life.

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Rejections, Slush, and Turkeys: Happy Monday!

April 16, 2012 | by

  • Dora Saint, the (wonderfully named) author of the bucolic “Miss Read” novels, has died at age ninety-eight.
  • Trouble in Riverdale: the New York Times details the battle for Archie’s soul.
  • Unless you want it doused in liquor, don’t have F. Scott Fitzgerald cook your turkey.
  • In light of Günter Grass’s recent clash with Israel, Dave Eggers is declining to travel to Germany and accept an award from the Günter Grass foundation. Not in protest of the author’s poem "What Must Be Said" but, rather, because "in light of the recent debate, he would be forced into commenting, endlessly and needlessly, on Grass and Israel and Iran, when the purpose of his visit was supposed to be about discussing his book Zeitoun, and the plight of Americans during and after Hurricane Katrina,” according to the Wylie Agency. This is controversial.
  • If you want to get the writer’s experience, try the rejection generator.
  • From the other side of the desk? Get a taste of what editors receive in unsolicited slush piles.
  • The eternal question: Kool Keith or James Joyce?
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    On the Shelf

    July 20, 2011 | by

    Jane Austen

    A cultural news roundup.

  • An unfinished Jane Austen novel sells at auction for $1.6 million.
  • The end of Borders.
  • Sigmund Freud, cokehead.
  • California schoolbooks add the LGBT community.
  • So do Archie comics.
  • The rock memoir is huge: can the Thin White Duke (or for that matter Ziggy Stardust) be far behind? Bowie becomes publishers’ “top target.”
  • “We insist that students touch and smell and shine light through items, and investigate them to understand the book in history, and understand the book as history.
  • Entering the publishing world in the digital age.
  • Longshot Magazine is back.
  • A Harry Potter plagiarism case bites the dust.
  • Frederick Seidel on a time before air-conditioning.
  • A brief history of Pendleton.
  • Alan Bennett: “I have always been happy in libraries, though without ever being entirely at ease there.”
  • How to undress a Victorian lady.
  • If the Paradise Lost adaptation is hell for Milton lovers, call Bradley Cooper the devil.
  • The NewsCorp scandal: (almost) stranger than fiction.
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