Writer/director Nora Ephron reflects on her past and aging in this book. It is amusing at times, such as the first chapter entitled “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” noting the havoc that age wreaks upon the body. As she lunches with friends her own age (60-something), she notes that increasingly, they all wear turtlenecks, scarves or mandarin collars to hide the wattle of old age. The second chapter, “I Hate My Purse,” is for women who “understand that their purses are reflections of negligent housekeeping, hopeless disorganization….” The next few chapters move along in a relatively harmless and sometimes funny way, not funny laughing-out-loud like you would at Tina Fey’s book, but enough to put a grin on your face as Ephron writes in her self-deprecating way about food, family, her apartments and her career.
My favorite chapter is called “On Rapture.” In it, Ephron writes about the rapture of discovering a great book, one that you can’t put down and that you read over and over. Some of the books that have given her rapture are Puzo’s “The Godfather,” “The Golden Notebook” by Doris Lessing, “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins and “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Chabon. I always enjoy reading about the books that writers like to read and getting ideas for something to pick up next, and reading is a topic that Ephron warms to. She does point out, though, that because she is getting older, the pleasures of reading are threatened by her increasingly poor vision and the need to wear reading glasses (which she constantly misplaces).
About two thirds of the way through the book, however, Ephron’s reflections become a bit more serious, even a little depressing in my opinion. In “Me and Bill: The End of Love,” Ephron writes about her disappointment with Bill Clinton for not supporting gays in the military early in his administration and then for his responsibility for the war. Because Bill screwed around with Monica, Al lost the election and thousands have died in a war that Bill has not denounced even as he leads conferences devoted to ending global poverty and preventing needless deaths. “Considering the Alternative,” the final essay, is about death — the death of Ephron’s best friend, her grief at the loss and the inevitability of one’s own death. For Ephron, “… it’s sad to be over sixty. The long shadows are everywhere — friends dying and battling illness.” When a magazine editor, a 60-something woman, approaches her to write about aging and complains that women their age use expressions like “in our day” as if all is past for them, Ephron says, “But it is not our day. It’s their day. We’re just hanging on.” This comment surprised me, given Ephron’s successes, but then I reread what I wrote in my first paragraph of this review, comparing her to Tina Fey, and I sort of get it. In 15-20 years, our comedic “It Girl” Fey will probably feel as Ephron does now, and some new writer will get her turn.
Overall an okay book.