From Charlene Muhr
author: Ephron, Nora
I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman
Well known for her successful screenplays, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail, Nora Ephron has written a short collection of fifteen essays on her slant on aging in I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman. Although Ephron’s intended audience is the pre- and post- menopausal woman, women of all ages will find it humorous and will be able to relate to the essay dealing with maintenance. Ephron concentrates on the routine, the status quo maintenance – the hair dye, the highlights, the face creams, the body lotions, the mani’s and pedi’s, the removal of unwanted hair, all things to do to just stay more or less even. Another essay – I Hate My Purse deals with all the problems of selection, cost, and items lost in the bag, oozing creams, and the infamous Kelley bag. Other essays in the collection deal with marriage, divorce, parenting, cooking, and Manhattan apartments. An entertaining read!
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Knapp, Caroline
The merry recluse: a life in essays
This was published posthumously in 2004. The compiler is Sandra Shea, her former editor. The author died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 42. Ms. Knapp was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, an alternative newspaper, and her essays also appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Siren magazine, and New Woman magazine. She wrote honestly about her struggles and her innermost thoughts and feelings. She admits to feelings of jealousy, anxiety, grief, loneliness and rage that many of us deny. Her essays about her obsessions and addictions are truly brave. In “A letter to my father”, she states “I’ve come to see drinking as a relationship, as full and rich and sensual and complex as the kind you have with the key people in your life, as the kind I had with you. I loved drinking, for a long time. I loved it so much I could have died for it, literally. But you died first and in many ways, I guess that spared me. On some key level, you see, I couldn’t give up drinking until I’d given up you.”
“Life without anesthesia” is about how exposed one feels after giving up an addiction. In her case, she hid behind anorexia and alcoholism. In conquering a food disorder and alcoholism, she was sometimes flooded with too many emotions, but also experienced an authentic life. Ms. Knapp was also a fine social critic. The piece entitled “Teddy Bear II” is about a case where a woman abandoned her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She argues that we as a nation do a very poor job of caring for our elderly. She could be funny, too. How many of us can relate to spending inordinate sums of money to furnish our homes in “Notes on Nesting” I saw myself in “I hate money”: “I hate money. I hate dealing with it, thinking about it, managing it, planning for it, and accounting for it. On the other hand, I don’t have too many problems spending it, which complicates matters considerably.” ” Bills? What bills? I don’t see any bills. Who’s Bill? Let’s talk about something else.” Some essays might appeal more to women. In “Barbie does death”, Ms. Knapp states that “The big walk down the aisle is allegedly something a girl starts dreaming about as soon as she’s old enough to dream”. She did an informal poll of 15 of her friends, and only two had the wedding fantasy. The majority fantasized about being rock stars or superheroes. The title essay “The merry recluse” is about the joys of living alone, and how this flies in the face of societal expectations. It would have been amazing to see what other issues she would have tackled, if she had lived.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Weingarten, Gene
The fiddler in the subway : the true story of what happened when a world-class violinist played for handouts– and other virtuoso performances by America’s foremost feature writer
Mr. Weingarten is the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for Feature Writing. This is a compilation of 20 essays (some funny, some sad, some thoughtful, all powerful) that have appeared in The Washington Post over the years. “The Great Zucchini” is an essay, and the stage name for the Washington area’s most successful children’s entertainer. Washington’s wealthy parents take their children’s birthday parties very seriously. The author succeeds in eliciting how the entertainer is so gifted with preschoolers. “The armpit of America” could describe many towns, but Battle Mountain, Nevada was chosen for this article. In Battle Mountain, there’s nothing to do but gamble and drink. Even the representatives from the Chamber of commerce and the local newspaper can’t find anything good to say about the town. The more somber essays are “Fear itself”, where the author rides a bus in Jerusalem to try to understand “the psychology of the terrorized”; “The first father” about President Clinton’s biological father; and “Fatal distraction”, about parents who accidentally leave their babies in a hot car. “The fiddler in the subway” is the account of the day they arranged to have world-class violinist, Joshua Bell, play a Stradivarius violin in the Metro station for spare change. Would anyone notice the virtuoso in their midst?