Friday, 25 October 2013

Cabbage strudel recipes

I was promised an "irresistible treat for any woman who reads it" but I'm afraid that Nora Ephron's 'I feel bad about my neck' left me feeling a bit meh. It is a collection of essays that have all previously been published in various magazines and newspapers, gathered together here under the vague subtitle of 'thoughts on being a woman'.  It serves to remind me how far I sometimes am from being a real woman.

The first one did make me laugh because I have mused elsewhere on the subject of how your neck is the part of you that gives your age away, and she does tackle the ageing process with a suitable good humour and distain. But it went downhill from there; handbags leave me cold and the long chapter on 'Maintenance' left me merely bemused. I have never blow-dried my hair, let alone dyed it, had a manicure or pedicure, threaded or otherwise removed facial hair or spent money on miraculous anti-ageing creams. I found the diatribe about cooking boring, but was more understanding of her falling in love with her Manhattan apartment. What I did like was how matter of factly the men in her life arrived and departed, and how the stories were about her as a human being, not her job, or her marriages, nor even about her children, though they are all mentioned in passing. I think the one I did like was 'Rapture', about falling in love with books (in fact many of them are about love in its many and various forms) and the importance of a good sofa:

"I did most of my reading as a child on my bed or on a rattan sofa in the sunroom of the house I grew up in. Here's a strange thing: Whenever i read a book I love, I start to remember all the other books that have sent me into rapture, and I can remember where I was living and the couch I was sitting on when I read them. After college, living in Greenwich Village, I sat on my brand-new wide-wale corduroy couch and read The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, the extraordinary novel that changed my life and the lives of so many other young women in the 1960's. I have the paperback copy I read at the time, and it's dog-eared, epiphany after epiphany marked so that I could easily refer back to them. Does anyone read The Golden Notebook nowadays?" (p.183)

and later, after getting carried away by Smiley's People:
"But meanwhile, my purple couch is lost in the divorce and I buy a new couch, a wonderful squishy thing covered in warm, cozy fabric, with arms you can lie back on and cushions you can sink into, depending on whether you want to read sitting up or lying down." (p.185)

Towards the end a brief piece entitled 'What I wish I'd known' gives a variety of both vague and very specific advice for life; never forget "You can order more than one dessert." The book had been sitting on the arm of the sofa and the library requested it back so I confess I skim read most of it this afternoon; probably a quiet afternoon's light entertainment if that is your kind of thing.

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