I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Despite the loss of rent control, Nora Ephron will surive.

Nora Ephron has dispensed thoughts on being a woman for four decades, from a column in Esquire at the height of the women's lib movement to Meg Ryan's acceptance speech in When Harry Met Sally. Her sister-mother witticisms earned her a seat at the Algonquin with Calvin Trillin and Victor Navasky, and now she blogs on culture and politics for a virtual round-table, The Huffington Post.com. This collection of 15 essays (some previously published in The New Yorker, Vogue, and others) reminds us how she stands in the urbane comic tradition of Dorothy Parker and Betty Comden (On the Town). I Feel Bad surveys several of her current pet topics: handbags, miracle creams, a little extra skin. But the waddle and pricey jars of Crème de la Mer are more than just that, they're gateways to age anxiety. Ephron's adage that "adolescence is for the parents," not their children ("Parenting in Three Stages"), argues parenting is no easier when you have Dr. Spock on your Blackberry. "Moving On," her Goodbye to All That to a Manhattan apartment building, details a love affair running its course for more than 20 years until a change in rent-control leads to a painful breakup. The ever-changing city is a prism for her views on the lost Hungarian bakery responsible for that delicious cabbage strudel, skyrocketing rents, and departed friends. Death looms like the end of rent control, too. "Considering the Alternative" mourns a confidante while addressing the Boomer generation's mounting health concerns. Yet Ephron never loses her sense of humor. "If anyone young is reading this," she advises, "go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four." She can be precious, misplacing her glasses ("Blind as a Bat") and celebrating urban ingenuities like having anything delivered and building a wastebasket into a desk ("Where I Live"). It's filler, sure, but so is everyday life. Thankfully, when Ephron, now 65, evaluates that life, there are no traces of Sally Albright, simply moving to New York so "something will happen." Ephron is a woman who has made things happen on her own. Between her marriages, children, career pressures, and the serial relationships with cookbook authors, we, too, have grown old(er) with her. Not a bad thing for us both, considering the alternative. KATE SILVER

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