Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

"Reading is one of the main things I do. Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and its a way to making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss." From I Feel Bad About my Neck by Nora Ephron
I totally "grok" that quote, as I feel exactly the same way about reading.
This was one of the best books I've read all year. Ephron, who is known for writing screenplays for some legendary chick flicks like "When Harry Met Sally" is at her best here, witty, brilliant, vulnerable and real. The reader feels as if they're fortunate enough to sit down at a New York cafe with Ephron and spend the afternoon chatting over bagels and tea.
Though she's in her 60s, I could identify with all her comments on the onerous maintenance regimes women are expected to adhere to, or the way that we all find so much fault with our bodies, or the difficulties of raising a child so at the very least they won't be a serial killer or the cell mate of one.
Then there's the moments when Ephron writes about books that make my heart sing, because she puts into words what I feel every time I pick up a new book, hoping for some fine prose and gorgeous storytelling:

"I loved this book. I loved every second of it. I was transported into its world. I was reminded of all sorts of things in my own life. I was in anguish over the fate of its characters, I felt alive, and engaged, and positively brilliant, bursting with ideas, brimming with memories of other books I've loved. I composed a dozen imaginary letters to the author, letters I'll never write, much less send. I wrote letters of praise. I wrote letters relating entirely inappropriate personal information about my own experiences with the authors subject matter. But mostly I wrote letters of gratitude: the state of rapture I experience when I read a wonderful book is one of the main reasons I read, but it doesn't happen every time, or even every other time, and when it does happen, I am truly beside myself." from the chapter "On Rapture" by Nora Ephron

I wanted to shout "YES!" about a million times when I read paragraphs like the above...yes, that's it exactly! She manages to hit the nail on the head of nearly ever experience she writes about. There was even a paragraph when Ephron was talking about losing a good friend, and she says "I want to talk to her. I want to have lunch with her. I want her to give me a book she just read and loved. She is my phantom limb, and I can't believe I'm here without her." Once again, yes! Exactly! This is how I feel nearly every day when I think of my best friend Muff, and her passing this year that was so unexpected and so horrifyingly swift.

Perhaps my experiences are so average that many women experience them as well, or perhaps Nora Ephron just has her lovely manicured fingers on the zietgiest, the pulse of women over the age of 40. Either way, this book is a must read for the baby boom generation woman who is trying to make sense of it all and still keep her sanity. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you will nod in agreement. I highly recommend this book.

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