I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron


  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English


Never mind the grammatically horrendous title (for shame!), this is one entertaining book of essays on the subject of aging, most especially as it applies to women. Whether it would be as funny to either: a). men, or b). people too young to know what aging really feels like, is debatable but I can only say I found it a very deep, thoughtful and quick read. 

It’s also one that kept me laughing, that is, when I didn’t feel like crying. Ephron doesn’t sugar-coat, though she does pour on the humor. She lets out her true feelings on the topic of aging, which feels an awful lot like grief in some of her essays. That would make sense, though, to mourn the passing of youth as you’d mourn just about anything you’ve had and lost. 

Though she couches things in humor, she’s brutally honest.  She’s at her most poignant while speaking about the loss of her best friend, who died all too soon after discovering she had cancer. One day they were talking about the fickle and finite nature of life, and the next they were struggling to find a way to make sense of things, and to figure out how to say goodbye.  Really wrenching stuff, but the uplift is Ephron’s unfailing sense of humor.  The optimism of that may be real or faked, but there’s enough padding there that the reader can still come away with a feeling things aren’t SO bad, about her neck or other, bigger things like death and dying.

I had to wait a while for my crack at this book, as it’s still quite new and apparently there was a line already waiting to reserve it before I had the bright idea of doing so.  I brought it home from the library today, started reading it in the car while waiting for the kids to get out of school, and finished it just a few minutes ago, thus making my total reading time something in the neighborhood of 2.5 hours.  What an entertaining 2.5 hours they were, too. I was sorry the book was so short.

This is partly a book about fighting the aging process, but not entirely. All the creams and surgical procedures are mentioned, and Ephron will tell you what she’s done and what she hasn’t, but that isn’t the main point of the book. The point is aging isn’t a walk in the park. Not only can an aging person all but feel the world passing on to the next generation, but she must also face that along with losing some of the people she cares about. Aging means time passes, and as time passes both good and bad things happen.  You may choose to focus on the good or the bad, but ultimately aging is a struggle. It’s a struggle physically, mentally and emotionally, and that’s all there is to it.

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