Aspiring essayists tend to worship at the altar of Joan Didion. Her lyrical prose—with its rhythmic repetitions, its dramatic expressions of regret and longing caught in lockstep with the failings and farces of our culture—lures readers into a state of deeply romantic woe. "We tell ourselves stories in order to live," Didion writes in The White Album—a not-so-subtle suggestion to young writers that it isn't merely important for them to spin their angst into dense, poetic passages; it's necessary for their survival. In Didion's hands, we are exquisitely aware of every tragic molecule that makes up our vast, bewildering universe.
Nora Ephron, very much by contrast, takes tragedy and bewilderment and spins them into rambling comedic reflections on mashed potatoes and infidelity and hating her purse. Maybe this is
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