Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Summary from Goodreads:

After five years, Isadora Wing has come to a crossroads in her marriage: Should she and her husband stay together or get divorced? Accompanying her husband to an analysts’ conference in Vienna, she ditches him and strikes out on her own, crisscrossing Europe in search of a man who can inspire uninhibited passion. But, as she comes to learn, liberation and happiness are not necessarily the same thing.

A literary sensation when first published in 1973, Fear of Flying established Erica Jong as one of her generation’s foremost voices on sex and feminism. Nearly four decades later, the novel has lost none of its insight, verve, or jaw-dropping wit


When I saw the cover (2003 NAL trade edition) of our book club's book of the month (not the one pictured here, as I don't think I am self-assured enough to not blush or giggle at it) I had completely different expectations from what I had just read. Well, it does contain some crass and raunchy stuff. The word fuck and cunt comes up frequently. There's a threesome, talks of the joys of one night stands, and more sexual fantasies that you can shake a stick at. But the novel turned out to be something more than that. It's actually a feminist book, I soon found out. Sure, I've heard of feminism. My closest understanding of it came when I was probably around 10 or so, being a massive Spice Girls fan. And their ever popular phrase"Girl Power". And their faintly feminist first hit, Wannabe. The song goes something like this: "Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want." Unfortunately, Fear Flying was written in the 70s, an era sans Spice Girl (how did they go on?) And Isadora Wing, our protagonist unfortunately spends a great deal of this book, not being able to tell us what she wants. (Not a complaint on my part, I assure you.)

Isadora Wing is a poet in her late 20s . She is a divorcee from a previous troublesome marriage and is now married for the second time to Bennett, a psychologist of Asian descent. She soon finds herself being unfulfilled in this current coupling and that was when she spotted Dr. Adrian Goodlove. A man who could happily indulge this volatile, reckless Isadora and her want for zipless fucks (sex sans emotional attachment e.g. one night stands) And he does. But Isadora soon finds the rose colored glasses coming off.

I can see why this novel can be off putting to some. Isadora can be a tad ranty. Okay, a lot ranty. But Jong writes in a way that it came across to me as genuine rant. Genuine confusion over whether she can afford to have freedom, not just sexually, but freedom from all the constraints the 70s society has put on marriage and womanhood. Like women cannot have careers and kids at the same time. And marriage almost always implies kids, and not having them is deemed selfishness. That if you are a writer and a woman at the same time, you become a liability to whomever you are with. In short, women aren't allowed to have desires or aspirations. And Jong attacks that notion with honesty and verve and passion and candidness and humor, with plenty of psychoanalysis and literary allusions thrown into the mix. It's true Isadora's neurotic and manic romps left me a bit dizzy, but I definitely had a blast. 

Comments

  1. I may not like listening to Isadora's rants in real life and I don't approve a lot of the things she did but I also enjoyed reading this. It was fun reading about her, her complaints, her thoughts. :D

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    1. Yeah, she did some pretty reckless stuff. Very hot-blooded kasi Isadora. Rawr. But her rants aside from being entertaining, I found them to be insightful as well. :)

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  2. Me too! I had a blast reading this. It's a fun novel noh?

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    1. This is definitely one entertaining book. With Isadora's volatility, you never know what she might do next.

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  3. Um, next book please? Haha! I don't like either Isadora or Erica and can definitely live without her. But, nice review, Tin! ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hee hee! I can see how Isadora's actions can be quite off-putting.

      Thanks, Monique! :)

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