Nora Ephron’s “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” – book review

I devoured this book in one gulp as I would a box of chocolates. It is a collection of Nora Ephron’s personal essays, just the sort of length so that one can read it in a single afternoon.

I will admit, to my shame, that I’ve not really heard of Nora Ephron before. I mean, I would get some sort of picture if you described her as “the screenwriter who wrote When Harry Met Sally“. But I wasn’t very aware she was a writer, till a friend of mine started gushing about Heartburn. It was only then that I took notice of I Feel Bad About My Neck somewhere in the autobiography section of a Waterstones – and not for another year did I get my own copy. I’ve yet to read Heartburn, but based on how much I enjoyed this book, I probably will.

Imagine the sort of essays that Carrie Bradshaw would write if she were a bit older and slightly less obsessed with men. Nora Ephron was witty self-deprecating New Yorker and a writer, first and foremost. She was also unashamedly, a woman. She felt free to complain about the time it took to maintain her appearance as she grew older. She described the irrational love-affair she had with her apartment. – which was slightly too expensive — but love doesn’t have to be rational.

One of the amusing essays in the collection is Ephron’s description of her internship at President Kennedy’s office. There’s no space for an intern, there’s nothing her to do effectively and now after all these years, to make matters worse: “it has become horribly clear to me that I am probably the only young woman who ever worked in the Kennedy White House that the president did not make a pass at.” She blames the bad permanent wave she had at the time.

Reading this book is like meeting a friend for a cup of coffee. You feel free to share your feelings and your problems: no matter how trivial. There is a tacit understanding that this space is safe. In this book of essays it is the author who is doing the sharing – and yet despite of this, there are magical moments, when you, the reader, feel unashamedly understood.

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