THE PLOT: I Feel Bad About My Neck is a compilation of essays by journalist and screenwriter, Nora Ephron. Written in her sixties, Ephron provides advice about being a woman and reminisces on her life experiences. From reflections on New York to the women’s liberation movement, Nora’s essay covers the mundane and magical snapshots of her life written with humour and nostalgia.
OVERALL RATING: This book receives three stars. I really didn’t enjoy it at first because I felt it was quite superficial. However, I loved the later essays about her life as a journalist, interning at the White House and life in New York after her marriage breaks down. Therefore, it averages out in the middle!
GOOD BITS: My favourite essay is ‘The Story of My Life’. It’s so funny and cleverly written as Nora expands on little lines or phrases, such as ‘What my mother said’, ‘Everything is copy’, and ‘You can’t make this stuff up’. These little vignettes provide such insight into her life and are like mini-stories in 100-250 words.
BAD BITS: My least favourite essay is ‘On Maintenance’. Although there were some good observations about female appearance and ageing, I just didn’t connect with this essay. I’ve never really wanted to get a manicure or have a regular wax, so I didn’t really care about the perceived importance of it in a woman’s life. The comments about hair don’t apply to black women, so it left me feeling a bit cold.
I’m not immune to buying tons of miracle skin creams with the promise they’ll make me look beautiful or being worried that I’m too hairy (I did an expensive and thoroughly useless course of laser hair removal for several months in 2018). However, I don’t feel guilty or the need to over-analyse it. I mean, I just don’t really care about the ‘every day things required just to keep you from looking like someone who no longer cares’.
OVERALL: It was very interesting and there’s a chance that I’ll get more from this book when I’m older. Perhaps I’m too blasé about my feelings towards my neck (will I change my opinion when I’m older and it’s sagging?) or my handbag (I own some, I use them, and..?). However, Nora is undoubtedly a great writer and she describes everything with humour and energy. I’d recommend this book, and even give it as a gift to friends, but it won’t make it near my top reads of 2020.