November 5, 2011

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron's essay collection I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman has a cover that reaches off the shelf and smacks you.  Covering topics as varied as the female quest to find the perfect purse, the inevitability of death, and the love/hate feeling inspired by Bill Clinton, this collection manages to fit an impressive array of female obsessions and conundrums into less than 150 pages. 
The first essay starts off, "I feel bad about my neck.  Truly I do.  If you saw my neck, you might feel bad about it, too, but you'd probably be too polite to let on" (3).  Ephron goes on to describe the slow, horrifying, southward movement of the skin on her neck.  She searches in vain for an antidote, a magical plastic surgery cure, but ends up wearing turtlenecks instead. 

My favorite essay of the bunch is titled "On Rapture" and details Ephron's life-long love of good books.  She reminisces about the books that have put her into a joyous, otherworldly state, including A Little Princess, The Godfather and The Golden Notebook.  Ephron also describes the wonderful way in which the memory of a book can be linked to a place; think of a character or phrase and you can be instantly transported back to that squishy purple couch you used to curl up on as a child.  "On Rapture" is the most enchanting of Ephron's essays, and unfortunately is also one of the shortest. 

Much of I Feel Bad About My Neck is a reflection on the important milestones in a woman's life - raising children, finding and affording the perfect apartment, having your legs waxed for the first time.  I Feel Bad About My Neckcovers many humorous topics, though I found the majority of the essays to be only mildly funny.  I smiled quite a bit while reading Ephron's pieces, but I never laughed out loud in that maniacal way brought on by other essayists (*coughDavidSedariscough*).  However, perhaps I'm simply the wrong target demographic for I Feel Bad About My Neck. After all, my neck is only twenty-three years old. 

I Feel Bad About My Neck  © Nora Ephron and Knopf, 2006.

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