Sunday, April 1, 2007

I Feel Bad About My Neck

By Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron's book - "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman" is made up of 16 autobiographical essays, some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, and other venues is a direct look at life from Nora Ephron's perspective as a 60 some year old woman. She describes various dynamics regarding life as it progresses.Ephron includes a hilarious chapter on the concept of "maintenance". This refers to the confounding number of things that a woman is faced with adapting as time goes on : Waxing the mustache, dealing with keeping skin moisturized,hair dying,menopause, empty nests... She discusses openly how her relationships in her life have impacted her over the years - her thought on marriage is very telling : "marry someone you are comfortable divorcing."
In this book Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent. She recounts her anything-but-glamorous days as a White House intern during the Kennedy years : “I am probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House that the President did not make a pass at”, and shares how she fell in and out of love with Bill Clinton,from a distance, of course. But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age.
Nora Ephron who brought us When Harry Met Sally , Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail , Michael and Bewitched, and the author of best sellers Heartburn, Scribble Scribble, Wallflower at the Orgy and Crazy Salad, discusses everything—from how much she hates her purse to how much time she spends attempting to stop the clock: the hair dye, the treadmill, the lotions and creams that promise to slow the aging process but never do. Oh, and she can’t stand the way her neck looks. But her dermatologist tells her there’s no quick fix for that.
But,Ephron doesn't stop with necks, but takes on other afflictions and a few delights that mark this season of her life: her loathing of purses, the struggle to keep fit, the vagaries of parenting, and her favorite books.
These topics are laced with wry observations, told in an intimate style that makes Ephron seem like a close friend spilling details about her life.Nora Ephron paints quite a picture of lunching with her friends,all wealthy women in their 50s and 60s,as she looks around the table to realize they're all wearing turtlenecks. Or blouses with mandarin collars.
All in an attempt to hide their scrawny or saggy necks. This body part, Ephron concludes, is hopeless.Other beauty issues are more readily solved: gray hair can be colored, patchy skin can be covered with makeup, and wrinkled faces given chemical treatments, but short of plastic surgery, necks are "doomed." She's skewering the obsession with appearances while squeezing comic mileage out of the situation.
"Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth"..."You have to cut a redwood tree open to see how old it is, but you wouldn't have to if it had a neck",Nora Ephron writes.
Graying hair is another age marker, and hair dye, Ephron concludes, is the most powerful weapon women have against the youth culture. She makes a persuasive case that hair dye has enabled women to feel comfortable about remaining in the workforce far longer than they otherwise might.
Most women will love the essay about her purse. She may "feel bad" about her neck, but she "hates" her purse. She's writing here for women "who understand that their purses are reflections of negligent housekeeping, hopeless disorganization, a chronic inability to throw anything away" and who aren't wildly successful at changing at the right time from a winter purse to a summer one. Her list of permanent purse contents includes loose Tic-Tacs, lipsticks with no covers, leaky ballpoint pens and crumpled tissues that might have been used but equally well might not have been.
Nora Ephron is always good for an amusing line, a wry smile, and sometimes an abashed grin of recognition as she homes in on one of our own dubious obsessions.
The honest truth is that it's sad to be over sixty," concludes Nora Ephron in her sparkling new book about aging.But,while signs of mortality proliferate, Ephron offers a rebuttal of consequence: an intelligent, alert, entertaining perspective.
This book is sometimes funny, and at times melancholy. It starts out seeming like it's going to be a series of humor columns and turns into a nice reflective book about life, parenthood, aging and being a woman.
It doesn't matter what age you are, you will love this book.Nora Ephron's perspective as an admittedly high-maintenance, New York-dwelling, successful screenwriter will keep you entertained."I Feel Bad About My Neck" is a book of wisdom, advice, and laugh-out-loud moments, a scrumptious, irresistible treat.

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