In I Feel Bad About My Neck the late Nora Ephron writes about distinctly female concerns: her neck and its truth-telling properties, the chaos and insistent demands of a pocketbook, the deeper meaning of cookbooks, the hourly and financial toll of looking presentable (and largely past–boyfriend proof), and the shifting conversations of parenting (from you are not getting a tiara to using the tiara as a bargaining chip). She also includes a flash-biography and a list of Nora aphorisms. As expected from the writer of When Harry Met Sally and the writer and director of Julie & Julia and You’ve Got Mail, these 15 intimate, confessional, and witty essays are as warm, supportive, and charming as having lunch with your funniest and smartest friends.
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The honest truth is that it's sad to be over sixty," concludes Nora Ephron in her sparkling new book about aging. With 15 essays in 160 pages, this collection is short, a thoughtful concession to pre- and post-menopausal women (who else is there?), like herself, who "can't read a word on the pill bottle," follow a thought to a conclusion, or remember the thought after not being able to read the pill bottle. Ephron drives the truth home like a nail in your soon-to-be-bought coffin: "Plus, you can't wear a bikini." But just as despair sets in, she admits to using "quite a lot of bath oil... I'm as smooth as silk." Yes, she is. This is aging lite-but that might be the answer. Besides, there's always Philip Roth for aging heavy. Ephron, in fact, offers a brief anecdote about Roth, in a chapter on cooking, concerning her friend Jane, who had a one-night stand, long ago, with the then "up-and-coming" writer. He gave Jane a copy of his latest book. "Take one on your way out," he said. Conveniently, there was a box of them by the front door. Ephron refuses to analyze-one of her most refreshing qualities-and quickly moves on to Jane's c leri remoulade. Aging, according to Ephron, is one big descent-and who would argue? (Well, okay-but they'd lose the argument if they all got naked.) There it is, the steady spiraling down of everything: body and mind, breasts and balls, dragging one's self-respect behind them. Ephron's witty riffs on these distractions are a delightful antidote to the prevailing belief that everything can be held up with surgical scaffolding and the drugs of denial. Nothing, in the end, prevents the descent. While signs of mortality proliferate, Ephron offers a rebuttal of consequence: an intelligent, alert, entertaining perspective that does not take itself too seriously. (If you can't laugh, after all, you are already, technically speaking, dead.) She does, however, concede that hair maintenance-styling, dyeing, highlighting, blow-drying-is a serious matter, not to mention the expense. "Once I picked up a copy of Vogue while having my hair done, and it cost me twenty thousand dollars. But you should see my teeth." Digging deeper, she discovers that your filthy, bulging purse containing numerous things you don't need-and couldn't find if you did-is, "in some absolutely horrible way, you." Ephron doesn't shy away from the truth about sex either, and confesses, though with an appropriate amount of shame, that despite having been a White House intern in 1961, she did not have an affair with JFK. May Ephron, and her purse, endure so she can continue to tell us how it goes. Or, at least, where it went. Toni Bentley is the author, most recently, of Sisters of Salome and The Surrender, an Erotic Memoir. She is writing about Emma, Lady Hamilton, for the Eminent Lives series. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A disparate assortment of sharp and funny pieces revealing the private anguishes, quirks and passions of a woman on the brink of senior citizenhood. Ephron, whose screenwriting credits include Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally and Silkwood, has brought together 15 essays, most of them previously published in the New York Times, the New Yorker or assorted women's/fashion magazines. She explores the woes of aging with honesty-hair-coloring and Botox are standard treatments, as is getting a mustache wax-but maintaining a 60-plus body is only her starting point. Ephron includes breezy accounts of her culinary misadventures, her search for the perfect cabbage strudel and her dissatisfaction with women's purses. An essay on her love affair and eventual disenchantment with the Apthorp apartment building on Manhattan's West Side deftly captures both the changes in New York City and in her own life. There's an unusual pairing of presidential pieces: A lighthearted piece on her non-encounter with Kennedy when she was a White House intern in the 1960s is followed by a fiercely astringent one on the failings of Bill Clinton. Some of the pieces, such as her essay on parenting, seem tentative, and two, "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less" and "What I Wish I'd Known," read like works in progress, suggesting that they may have been rushed into print to fill the pages of a too-small book. One doesn't need to be a post-menopausal New Yorker with a liberal outlook and comfortable income to enjoy Ephron's take on life, but those who fit the profile will surely relish it most. First printing of 60,000