Thursday, January 10, 2008

Could Use a Few More Thoughts


I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
by Nora Ephron

This book is quick, and mildly amusing, but I think Nora Ephron can do better. She is a Academy award-nominated screenwriter probably best known for romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. She also has written a novel, Heartburn, based on the disintegration of her first two marriages. I have not read it, but have heard it is good. From this collection of essays, Nora Ephron seems like a likable, funny, warmhearted person with whom it would be fun to hang out. This book is a little thin, though. It almost seems like she needed a quick half mil, so cobbled together some rants on aging that she may originally have included in emails to sisters or girlfriends and voila' - a book is born. There's no crime in that, but it seems a little sad that so many writers out there are struggling and have to make a living doing things that are not what they feel called to do just so they can survive, while a person who is already famous can publish a book that frankly does not show a whole lot of effort.

People who live in New York City will find geographic and cultural references that resonate for them, and her love for the city and for life itself is obvious. The essay titled On Rapture is about her love for reading, about the miracle of getting lost in a good book and completely forgetting oneself for hours or even days at a time. That sounded very familiar, and was easily my favorite essay of the book.

Her closing essay, Considering the Alternative, is a poignant reflection on friends dying, which naturally happens more and more as we get older. It was more serious than the rest of the essays, and I wished she had offered the reader more of that reflective, calmer, less frenetic side of herself. Breezy is fine, self-deprecating is fine, and humorous is great, but I sense that there is more to Nora Ephron than this. If she felt comfortable sharing riffs on hair coloring and unwanted facial hair with untold thousands of people, it seems like she could have gone a little deeper a little more often.

Reverent Reader

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