I received I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron as a gift from one of my girlfriends. She knew how much I enjoyed Nora Ephron's work as a screenwriter, film director and playwright. So it was a natural assumption that I'd be tickled by her non-fiction work. And indeed, I was.
I like Nora. She's real. And she's smart. An excellent combination. Add in the fact that she shares her witty and candid insights without hesitation or apology, it makes the whole tenor of the book simply delightful! Simply hilarious. Can't recall ever laughing aloud while reading quite like this! With Nora's writing, no topic is off-limits.
Much like her screenplays for When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998), these autobiographical essays laud the Upper West Side. And I love the way she describes New York City almost as though it's a living, breathing creature that keeps on growing new limbs, changing at each turn. Through her words, I believe it must be.
Nora Ephron has a way with words that any reader or fellow wordsmith will appreciate. In fact, she shares her own celebration of reading in this book. There's no sense in paraphrasing; you must read it for yourself:
"Reading is everything...
Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss."
I Feel Bad About My Neck is also packed with other bite-sized wisdom from Nora's life as a journalist, career-woman, wife and mother. For instance, "There's no point in making pie crust from scratch."
But one of my favorite parts of this book, which also appeared in Oprah magazine's Aha Moment series, is one little sentence. Nora reveals her Aha Moment... "We can't do everything."
That's a good piece of advice to remember as you gallop through life. As Nora says, "You would be amazed at how often things sort themselves out without any help from me whatsoever."
Now that I've read and LOL'd my way through this book, I must journey backwards and read Nora Ephron's previous books – Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women (1975), about a generation of women (and men) who helped shape the way we live, covering a series of events ranging from Watergate to the Pillsbury Bake-Off; Scribble Scribble: Notes on the Media (1978), an early collection of essays on life and work in the 60s and 70s; Heartburn (1996), a tale about marriage and break-ups; and Wallflower at the Orgy (2007), in which Ephron chronicles her own beauty makeover.
And lastly, I'll catch up with her latest publication, I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections (2010), which I've heard is another batch of succinct essays, covering her amusing observations, reflections back on her career-rise from a New York Post writer in the 60s, and the fascinating people she met along the way.
I look forward to many more laughs from Nora Ephron's work, both films and books! And if I find myself back in NYC again soon, perhaps a touch of theater. Who's with me? – Meredith