≡ Menu

Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck

i feel back about my neck Title: I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Author: Nora Ephron

Genre/Year: Personal Essays, 2006

Two Sentence Summary: Think getting old and being a woman is kinda funny? So does Nora Ephron!

One Sentence Review: A solid essay collection, but one that I’m not quite wise enough to totally understand.

Grade: 83/100

Summary: Nora Ephron’s book I Feel Bad About My Neck is a collection of essays about aging as a woman.  The essays range in topic from perfect apartments to growing up to first jobs and other life lessons. It’s hard to summarize more than that, I think, because the book covers such a variety. One thing all the essays have in common, however, is a sort of irreverent look at how life changes when we’re not really expecting it.

Review: Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this collection, but am glad I read it. I loved that each of the essays in this book used a slightly different format; sometimes essayists will fall into a trap where each chapter follows a similar sort of structure which gets a little predictable. While the first few essays in this book are similar, the pieces in the last half switch length and format drastically while still holding on to Ephron’s self-deprecating sense of humor.

My favorite essay was “The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less.” In this piece, Ephron characterizes her life in a series of short vignettes, each no more than about 200 words. I love this in part because it supports my own belief that the best things in life are the tiny moments we make time to remember and because it gives you a picture of what the most important moments were to her. Here’s an example:

I’m going to be a newspaper reporter forever

It’s 1963. I’ve written a piece for a parody of the New York Post during a long newspaper strike. The editors of the Post are upset about the parody, but the publisher of the Post is amused. “If they can parody the Post, they can write for it,” she says. Hire them.” When the strike ends, I’m give a one-week tryout at the Post. The city room is dusty, dingy, and dark. The desks are dilapidated and falling apart. It smells terrible. There aren’t enough phones. The city editor sense me to the Coney Island aquarium to cover the story of two hooded seals who’ve been brought together to mate but have refused to have anything to do with each other. I write a story. I think it’s funny. I turn it in. I hear laughter from the city desk. They think it’s funny too. I’m hired permanently. I have never been happier. I have achieved my life’s ambition, and I am twenty-two years old.

I’m sure you can guess why that’s one of my favorite passages. The rest of the essay goes along in that fashion until Ephron brings it sort of full circle in a way that’s just awesome.

The only thing that kept this essay collection from being one I’d read over and over again right now is that I don’t think I’m quite the target audience. A lot of the lessons and observations are from someone who has lived for a long time and has seen the sort of ebb and flow that life has. I haven’t had that quite yet, so some of the essays didn’t connect with me as well as they might have. This is a book that I would love to read later in my life though, because I think it will hit home a little bit more then.

Other Reviews: Book Addiction; A Striped Armchair; Maggie Reads;

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jeanne May 22, 2009, 9:44 am

    I agree, even though I’m older; I just didn’t get some essential part of these essays. I mean, who worries about her neck? Maybe you have to reach that age before you get it.

    I made a passing reference to I feel Bad About My Neck in my review of Elisabeth Berg’s The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, because it struck me as another book for women older than I am who worry about stuff that strikes me as astoundingly silly.


  • Kaye May 22, 2009, 12:05 pm

    Even if you were the target audience, this book is just a waste of paper. Sounds harsh, but that is just how I honestly felt about this book.

  • bermudaonion May 23, 2009, 2:23 pm

    Well, as a 50 year old woman, I don’t think growing old is all that funny. I’ve heard so much about this book. I think I would read it given the chance.

  • Diane May 24, 2009, 8:05 am

    “I feel bad about my neck too” LOL. I got a good laugh out of this book when I read it!

  • Kim L May 24, 2009, 5:51 pm

    I don’t know if I would get into this one either. I not a big essay reader, it really has to catch my attention for me to read an essay. Nice review.

  • Lori L May 25, 2009, 1:28 pm

    I just picked up a copy of Ephron’s book up in the clearance section at Half Price books 20% off sale this weekend. After turning 50 recently, something I’m not happy about, I was hoping it would give me a laugh and a better perspective on getting older. (I get the feeling bad about your neck thing; some women get wrinkly necks, others loose skin, as they age. Not saying it’s me, just saying it happens, LOL!)