In this issue:
In I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron, has let fly with her own trenchant thoughts on things like wrinkles and graying hair but alas, The Man Who Loved Jane Austin by Sally Smith O’Rourke is full of unfortunate examples of dreadful writing. Wicked! by Jilly Cooper is a tremendously readable big book full of characters and incidents, trials and triumphs and a close look at English society today
Morels by Michael Kuo is a beautiful book of particular interest to mycologists and mushroom hunters everywhere
I Feel Bad About My Neck
And Other Thoughts About Being A Woman
by Nora Ephron, ©2006
Published by Knopf , 137 pp
Well, it’s time for the baby boomers to weigh in on the early stages of getting old, and luckily for us the distaff boomers have lost neither their voices nor their senses of humor.
Judith Viorst, whose I’m Too Young To Be 70 was reviewed in this space last month, has accompanied us through every life stage for the last 40 years, and now Nora Ephron, another witty companion of our youth, has let fly with her own trenchant thoughts on things like wrinkles and graying hair.
This little collection of essays is not just another I-hate-getting-old complaint, although Ephron manages to present that one with her usual style and wit, offering scenarios all too familiar to a reader of the senior, female persuasion.
On the aging front, Ephron hits everything from maintenance (hair, skin, nails, etc.) to the annoyance of needing reading glasses, to the stages of parenting, to the list of things she wishes she had known en route to 60.
Tucked into the mix are chapters with titles like “I Hate My Purse,” (this reviewer’s personal favorite) or “The Lost Strudel or Le Strudel Perdu,” the latter an entertaining account of her search for a cabbage strudel like the one sold at a Hungarian bakery on 3 rd Avenue in New York City circa 1982.
Her take on the political scene is brief but fun (“Me and JFK: Now It Can Be Told”). Her chapter on President Clinton, entitled “Me and Bill: The End of Love,” should probably be required reading for any future presidential candidate. Here’s her take on the Monica Lewinsky affair:
“[He] broke my heart all over again. I couldn’t believe how betrayed I felt. He’d had it all, he’d had everything, and he’d thrown it away. And here’s the thing: It wasn’t his to throw away. It was ours. We’d given it to him and he’d squandered it.”
This is not a book to be read at one sitting. It’s best appreciated in little dips, taking each essay as delight unto itself. Wit, as anyone who has ever spent an evening with an endlessly clever dinner partner knows, works best in small doses. Each of Ephron’s chapters stands on its own, and should be savored fully before moving on to the next one. It’s a good book to take on the subway, to the doctor’s office, or on lunch hour ... or, perhaps, to dip into for an upbeat, day’s-end read just before you turn out the light. You’ll go to sleep with a smile on your face.