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I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Nora Ephron
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2006
With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.

The woman who brought us When Harry Met Sally . . . , Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Bewitched, and the author of best sellers Heartburn, Scribble Scribble, and Crazy Salad, discusses everything—from how much she hates her purse to how much time she spends attempting to stop the clock: the hair dye, the treadmill, the lotions and creams that promise to slow the aging process but never do. Oh, and she can’t stand the way her neck looks. But her dermatologist tells her there’s no quick fix for that.

Ephron chronicles her life as an obsessed cook, passionate city dweller, and hapless parent.  She recounts her anything-but-glamorous days as a White House intern during the JFK years (“I am probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House that the President did not make a pass at”) and shares how she fell in and out of love with Bill Clinton—from a distance, of course.  But mostly she speaks frankly and uproariously about life as a woman of a certain age.

Utterly courageous, wickedly funny, and unexpectedly moving in its truth telling, I Feel Bad About My Neck is a book of wisdom, advice, and laugh-out-loud moments, a scrumptious, irresistible treat.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

[Signature]Reviewed by Toni BentleyThe 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 céleri 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Nora Ephron, 65 years old in I Feel Bad About My Neck, pokes fun at her own eccentricities and finds herself writing about ‘lunch with my girlfriends–I got that far into the sentence and caught myself. I suppose I mean my women friends. We are no longer girls and have not been for forty years.’ But [I Feel Bad About My Neck is a] girlfriend book, and in the best way. . . . Ephron, who is a great wit, has made a career out of women’s body anxieties. The magazine piece that made her famous in the 1970s, ‘A Few Words about Breasts,’ is a long kvetch about her flat chest . . . Now, though, Ephron kvetches about her wrinkled neck, the one part of a woman’s aging body that can’t be resurfaced. She and the ladies who lunch with her all wear scarves or turtlenecks to hide their ‘shame.’ . . . Ephron [is] unfailingly clever and often pokes fun at our preoccupations while sharing them. . . . I Feel Bad About My Neck has everything I want in an entertaining read: a breezy pace, wry musings, copious doses of gossip, humor, and new information. . . . Ephron produces perfect vignettes. . . . [When I finished I Feel Bad About My Neck, I] felt the ‘rapture’ that Ephron says you feel on completing a great book. . . . [Books] have always been faithful pals, and [this one is] among the best. . . . [Get] your friends of a certain age together, rent Silkwood (which I think is Ephron’s best film), read [her book] together, and argue and laugh and cry. That’s my prescription.”
–Emily Toth, Women’s Review of Books

“The subtitle to this book of autobiographical essays by the pithy, witty Ephron–‘and other thoughts on being a woman’–says it all. Chapters include brilliant, biting essays on such things as wrinkly necks, bad handbags, and being a parent. You’ll laugh out loud at her spot-on observations, but there’s something wonderfully poignant about Ephron’s list of things worth knowing, and how to live out one’s life feeling satisfied. A heartwarming little book.”
Easy Living magazine (UK)

“What’s refreshing about Ephron is that she refuses to entertain any illusions about the terrible fate that awaits us. What’s great about her is that she makes the truth about life so funny when it should be so grim.”
–Christopher Goodwin, The Sunday Times (UK)

“Ephron’s laugh-out-loud collection tells the truth about aging–it’s not fun–and ‘she does it with humor and satire and perspective,’ says [Roxanne Coady of R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn.]. With blithe charm, Ephron exposes all the vain ploys that she–and we–would rather not admit we use to stave off another telltale wrinkle or gray hair. Read her book as an antidote to despair.”
U.S. News & World Report

“Now 65, the humorist offers a bracing take on aging in 15 memorable essays. Her finely honed wit is as fresh as ever.”
People magazine, Top 10 Books of 2006

“As if wrinkles and belly flab weren’t enough, women of a certain age have to fret about their turkey necks, too–so says the sage, dry, and hilarious Nora Ephron . . . Her droll take on traditionally gooey topics like motherhood and marriage makes the tender observations that much more unexpected . . . [A] sparkling series of essays.”
Ladies Home Journal

“Delightful . . . [A] funny, sisterly collection . . . Where books written for seniors are apt to be full of unconvincing cheer, Ephron’s charming book of self-questioning, confession, and resolve faces the reality that she’s sixty-five, dyes her hair, and is not happy about her neck, her purse, her failure at ambitious exercise programs, and other personal failures shared by many of us . . . None of these confrontations with mortality is arcane, all are universal, and people of either sex can relate to them . . . Many readers of I Feel Bad About My Neck will be familiar already with Ephron the accomplished human being . . . She’s one of only a few American essayists with a public persona–one thinks of Will Rogers, or Calvin Trillin, maybe Benjamin Franklin, Steve Martin, and Woody Allen . . . [She has] a talent for incisive compression and accessibility confided in a sort of plainspoken Will Rogers manner . . . . The hapless character Ephron has presented over the years may be the real Ephron, or not. The actual Ephron is praised by friends as smart, a perfect housekeeper, much prettier than the person she began depicting in Wallflower at the Orgy, her essays from the Seventies, a wonderful cook, etc., etc. It’s sound rhetorical strategy. Of all the ways to be funny, self-deprecation is more endearing than satire . . . . All in all, this funny book offers the pleasures of recognition; in an anxious world, her epigrams have a serious, consoling utility.”
–Diane Johnson, The New York Review of Books

“OK, so Nora Ephron is 65 now. Not to me, she’s not. She’s still that young smartass who used to rule the pages of Esquire . . . That was entertainment. She’s still entertaining . . . Ephron’s new look-back is a delight of a book that you can inhale in a single sitting . . . . When she’s funny, as she is in I Feel Bad About My Neck, she becomes a [writer] who won’t give her readers a rest from the bellowing laughter. Sixty-five ain’t old when you’re Nora Ephron.”
–Dan Smith, Blue Ridge Business Journal

“I like short books. In fact, when I’m at the bookstore, I tilt my head to the right and scan the shelves for books with the skinniest spines. I Feel Bad About My Neck was one I wished were longer. Ephron, journalist, novelist and screenwriter, bemoans getting old and all the maintenance needed just to tread water. But she does it in her inimitable, witty style. You don’t come away depressed as much as invigorated . . . [She] brings [her] funny but serious approach to this latest work.”
–Elizabeth Pezzulo, The Free Lance-Star

“You might think that I Feel Bad About My Neck is not a book for foodies. You would think wrong. I Feel Bad About My Neck is so witty and so much about food in our lives, that every Foodie should read it. This is the kind of book that will make you laugh out loud on the Amtrak train to the chagrin of other passengers buried deep in The Wall Street Journal. You may have to force yourself not to wave it under their noses, shouting, ‘Get this book!’ . . . . It rings funny and true at the same time.”
–Juliette Rossant, SuperChefBlog

“Clever . . . . [I Feel Bad About My Neck is] laced with wry observations, told in an intimate style that makes Ephron seem like a close friend spilling details about her life . . . [Ephron] has punctured many a bubble of conformity and made audiences laugh in recognition . . . [She] will keep you entertained.”
–April Austin, Christian Science Monitor

“Maybe Nora Ephron has become timeless . . . Certainly she writes, for all her funny commentary on modern life, like someone who has something useful and important to tell her readers . . . She’s figured something out that she wants to let you in on, and to make it palatable she’ll make you laugh.”
–Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Before Nora Ephron the director, or Nora Ephron the screenwriter, or even before Nora Ephron the novelist, there was Nora Ephron the journalist and essayist. That Nora Ephron, known for her wit, candor and vulnerability, has returned and is holding forth in I Feel Bad About My Neck . . . Sales have been brisk, no doubt because it’s the kind of book women don’t get only for themselves; they purchase copies for their best friends and sisters, and buy more to be given as birthday gifts and party favors. Women who find themselves somewhere between the arrival of their first wrinkle and death have to hear only the title to get the message. They get it that she gets it, and thank God for that.”
–Mimi Avins, Los Angeles Times

“[A] stylistic tour de force . . . Fireworks shoot out [of this collection] . . . The smaller blazes are bursts of wit that cast the familiar so sharply as to make it seem new . . . There are [also] passages where wit is used not to entertain but to lament . . . to take arms against life or death (where loss, however blithely sketched, is no joke at all) . . . The comic and rueful are still there, but they take on resonance.”
–Richard Eder, The Boston Globe

“Youth may be wasted on the young, but everyone can enjoy the hurdles and highlights of aging with Ephron’s witty and deeply personal essays on getting older . . . and yes, wiser.”
Life Magazine (“Life 5” Editors’ Pick)

“[W]ry and amusing . . . . [M]arvelous.”
–Bunny Crumpacker, Washington Post Book World

“I belly laugh[ed] at this compilation of essays by Nora Ephron, a book that includes subjects every woman can identify with, regardless of her age . . . I [plan] to order multiple copies as gifts, knowing my girlfriends [will] get as much of a charge out of the book as I have.”
–Chris Stuckenschneider, The Missourian

“This is a book about age and regret. Since it’s by Nora Ephron, it’s funny . . . . This delightful collection of personal essays . . . [is written] by a truly smart woman [who] disarms . . . by mocking her own anguish in a style that veers between hey-girlfriend coziness and wit . . . . Ephro... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I think Nora Ephron could write about the telephone book and make it entertaining (one brief section in this book about parenting proves the point). Here's an example. Most writers don't want to think about aging. If they do, they want to prescribe "solutions." Nora Ephron has a different idea: Simply describe aging as something we foolishly try to stave off (pretty unsuccessfully) by sharing her own experiences.

That concept is best captured by her essay "On Maintenance" that describes in detail the time, money, and effort she puts into trying to look as good as she can. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my cousin (who in her more naive days was a beauty queen) who always looks terrific. When I complimented my cousin on her appearance once, she replied, "You have no idea how much more effort it takes every year." Now, I do!

The essay "I Feel Bad About My Neck" is very funny. I don't think I ever look at women's necks . . . but now I know that some women do. Apparently it's all downhill after 43. The essay ends with the irony that Ms. Ephron cannot do anything about her neck without a facelift, and she's not a good candidate for a facelift.

I also liked her essays about how we fall in love with concepts, places, and people . . . for no particularly good reason. But that temporary embrace is soon replaced by another one that will probably be even more satisfying. Although not described that way, you get a sense that she views her prior two marriages much in the same way.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh at your age? Dec 13 2006
By David
Format:Hardcover
I hope that this book will make you think about life and your place in the world. At least this is what it did to me. As you will surmise aging is not a walk in the park. As you age along with losing some of the people you care about you feel the world passing on to the next generation. As time passes both good and bad things happen. You may choose to focus on the good or the bad, but ultimately aging is a struggle, pure and simple. It's a struggle physically, mentally and emotionally. Keeping that all in mind, the author attempts to find the funny in the sad. Discovering some humor in it can help us come to terms with the passing years. By the way, this book isn't just for women, as men also have their struggles with aging and the changes in their bodies and the changing social situations that time brings. I recommend the book as a good reading for anyone that likes to reflect on their lives. Another two books that I recommend are Energy Psychology, and Can we live 150 years. The latter one is actually a health guide for aging with dignity, and with no pain and/or suffering (as much as it is possible)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I feel better having read this book March 25 2007
By Swan
Format:Hardcover
I'm normally one to stick with the latest bestseller--you know, "Da Vinci Code" or "Katzenjammer by McCrae?" but instead decided to try this book as it was recommended over and over by friends. Glad I did. Ephron is funny and wry, and she pulls no punches in this tell all and a little bit more essay/memoir. She admits to being an intern at the White House in the 60s, but says she never had an affair with JFK. Other observations are just as wry and knowing. The book deals with aging and all that goes with it, especially for women. From covering everything in "your purse" to reading a copy of Vogue and then spending twenty thousand dollars, it's just one great story after another. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous book from Nora July 5 2007
By Jenny J.J.I. TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I remember reading Heartburn many years ago, and I thought I remembered that I liked it. Nora Ephron's neck may be losing it, but her writing is as fresh and vibrant as ever. Very funny, very honest. Immensely likeable. She talks about maintenance being a second career because a lot of women are pre-empting age. For example, hair dying, botox etc. She talks about her husbands theory of women either being birds, muffins or horses and that is the shape of your face. If you are a muffin, you can have a zillion face lifts and be fine, but other shaped faces - not so much.

She talks more seriously about reaching 60 and start loosing friends. You have to come to grips with reality and realise that we aren't invincible and won't die - it's getting closer to being on the cards. She also mentions things she wishes she'd known You can't be friends with people who call after 11pm, Write everything down, Back up your files etc.

She's very funny (a very dry sense of humour) and it shows through this book. It's a good read that is sometimes serious but overall will be thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. If you are a fan of her movies, you will definitely love I Feel Bad About My Neck ...
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