I Feel Bad About My Neck and other thoughts on being a woman

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
by Nora Ephron

I picked this up on a whim at the library and was so pleasantly surprised. Not that I was expecting to dislike it, exactly, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I was only vaguely familiar with Ephron the essayist and most familiar with her work in movies: When Harry Met Sally (love!), Sleepless in Seattle (liked it, but for me it was coasting on residual WHMS affection and the abuse of Louis Armstrong made me grumpy before it even started), and of course You've Got Mail, which I hated and referred to as the Great American Stalker Romance until I was forced to rewatch it recently after getting into an argument with a cousin at a family reunion about its alleged merits. (it's what we do -- if there isn't a lively disagreement in the air Certain People will monopolize the room with tales from the golf course.) Anyway, I don't love YGM, but I no longer actively hate it. (I have got to get into the endorsement business! "I no longer actively hate it," raves anonymous blogger.)

Back to the book -- I think I hesitated reading it sooner because I was expecting a collection of As Seen On Oprah essays -- all "rah rah woman!" on the outside and "let's go shopping!" on the inside. I was wrong, thankfully, as I so often am. She does talk about physical appearance and other issues that some might consider shallow, but it's so honestly observed! She's stripped the vanity and false modesty often found in writing about these kinds of homely topics and dives right in -- even when it is about vanity itself. Plus, she's really funny. It's personal, it's universal, it's a pleasure to read.

Speaking of pleasure, one of my favorite essays in the whole book, the essay I'd recommend reading while standing in the aisle of the bookstore if you're not going to buy it or check it out of the library but are somewhat curious nevertheless, would be On Rapture, which is about reading. "Days pass as I savor every word. Each minute I spend away from the book pretending to be interested in everyday life is a misery. How could I have waited so long to read this book? When can I get back to it? Halfway through, I return to New York to work, to finish a movie, and I sit in the mix studio unable to focus on anything but whether my favorite character in the book will survive. I will not be able to bear it if anything bad happens to my beloved Marian Halcombe. Every so often I look up from the book and see a roomful of people waiting for me to make a decision about whether the music is too soft or the thunder is too loud, and I can't believe that they don't understand that what I'm doing is Much More Important. I'm reading the most wonderful book."
7 comments on "I Feel Bad About My Neck and other thoughts on being a woman"
  1. I loved the bit you shared. I know the feeling when you are reading a book that really takes over your whole being, how you don't want to do anything else. I love that feeling. I love that feeling as it feels like a secret, somehow. Borderline naughty.

  2. It is borderline naughty! Illicit! Scandalous! But of course I love it. hee hee hee.

  3. I love it since even though it is naughty, illicit and scandalous it is still innocent.

  4. I am lucky enough to have a mother that owns this Ephron book so I was able to read the entire essay. I love it! I can't say that I am a Nora fan, based on her movie resume, but I think I will be reading the whole book.

  5. Hooray! I'm glad you were able to read the essay. It is awesome.

    Nora also wrote Silkwood and a lot of feminist essays in the 70's if that gives her more cred in your eyes.

  6. I read her essay about her neck last night, and although I am unable to totally relate to the trials and tribulations of a woman that wears scarves and turtlenecks, I can relate to the overall feeling of "WTF?" As long as I don't have to sit through her movies I think that I will like her fine. I might have to watch WHMS again. It's been like a gazillion years.

  7. yeah! I can't exactly relate to her trials and tribulations with her expensive new york apartment or divorces or whatever, but the underlying motivations and feelings are eminently relatable. I should watch WHMS again, too. It has been a long while.


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