Bland, often rambling anecdotes from the acclaimed director and screenwriter.
Ephron (I Feel Bad About My Neck, 2006, etc.) returns to the literary scene with a collection of essays that thematically hover around the issue of aging. “Once I went to a store to buy a book about Alzheimer’s disease and forgot the name of it,” she writes. The author compounds this humorous memory lapse alongside dozens of more egregious slips, leading to the conclusion, “All this makes me feel sad, and wistful, but mostly it makes me feel old.” Ephron remains unapologetic throughout her waxing nostalgia, continually referring to a bygone era where people didn't use the F-word and, “I’ll tell you something else: they didn't drink wine then. Nobody knew about wine.” Throughout, the author engages in heavy doses of name-dropping, but she remains aloof. In many ways, Ephron’s humor functions as a defense mechanism against aging, and while she pokes fun at her thinning hair and fading memory, the reader anxiously awaits an honest portrayal of the woman herself. “The D Word,” a firsthand account of the difficulties of divorce, offers a rare and refreshing glimpse into the author’s world, though in the final lines the reader is corralled back into familiar terrain: “for a long time, the fact that I was divorced was the most important thing about me. And now it’s not. Now the most important thing about me is that I'm old.” “Journalism: A Love Story” and “Going to the Movies” offer similar heartfelt accounts of a swiftly changing world, yet Ephron's willingness to open up to the reader remains the exception, not the rule. Further, the majority of her Andy Rooney–esque musings lack profundity—e.g., the opening to “The O Word,” in which each sentence occupies its own paragraph: “I’m old. I am sixty-nine years old. I’m not really old, of course. Really old is eighty. But if you are young, you would definitely think that I’m old. No one actually likes to admit that they’re old. The most they will cop to is that they’re older. Or oldish.”
Only occasionally reaches emotional depth—seems like a tardy attempt to capitalize on the success of I Feel Bad About My Neck.