CBR-V Review #52: Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron

And just like that–I’ve completed my Cannonball Read 5!!!! And two months ahead of schedule, to boot. 52 books in 10 months; that ain’t too shabby. I’ll still be reading/reviewing until December 31st, though, just to see how many books I can finish before then.

This is a fitting book to complete my goal with, because Nora Ephron is something of a personal hero of mine. She’s witty and smart and a brilliant writer, and if I were going to pick a person to emulate, it would probably be her. This was actually the first full book of hers that I’ve read (well, it’s actually a collection of pieces) but I loved it and absolutely plan on reading more. As a note: I believe that the edition I read is out of print, but has been republished in a single volume with Scribble, Scribble. There is a version of Crazy Salad out there with an introduction by Steve Martin, but this is not the original, as it cuts out a few of the pieces included.

Crazy Salad is a compilation of pieces written by Ephron for Esquire magazine in the 1970s, all of them dealing with, in one way or another, women. Ephron was an outspoken feminist with a wicked sense of humor, and so most of these columns are as entertaining as they are informative. She covers a huge range of topics, from Linda Lovelace and Deepthroat to the Pillsbury Bake-Off to meditations on breasts to reflections on the women associated with Nixon and the Watergate scandal (and many, many other things). Some of the pieces are more traditionally journalistic and others are just variations on the personal essay, and this variety just serves to highlight Ephron’s skill as a writer.

This collection was a bit uneven, I have to admit. There were some absolutely killer pieces in here–the aforementioned piece on breasts was the clear standout, but I also really enjoyed pieces on feminine hygiene products and the conflicts between the major players of the feminist movement (I had no idea that Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem hated each other), among others. Overall, the pieces were very strong, but there were definitely a few week links that I had to kind of skim through because they just weren’t engaging enough. I typically found those to be the ones where Ephron tried to be a bit more serious and objective–I think she’s most successful when she’s letting herself express her opinions freely and taking hilarious jabs at the bizarreness and superficiality of the world she lives in.

If you’re new to Ephron, this is as good a place as any to start (and it’s a great way to separate Ephron the screenwriter from Ephron the columnist–she was a very diverse and talented writer beyond scripts for admittedly great romantic comedies!). I definitely recommend checking this out or, at the very least, tracking down “A Few Words About Breasts,” because it’s just so, so good. 

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