FEAR OF FLYING | Erica Jong

 

Fear of Flying

Summary from Goodreads:

Bored with her marriage, a psychoanalyst’s wife embarks on a wild, life-changing affair.

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 learned that the TFG’s Book of the Month for August was erotica, I had second thoughts about joining. I haven’t read anything about it before and as much as possible I shy away from the genre. I feel that my sensitive (naks!) sensibilities might not be able to take all the things that make up an erotica. What made me reconsider was when I read some of the comments in the online discussion describing Fear of Flying as funny and not at all what they have expected of an erotica.

It still took me too long to finish the book because 1) I got distracted by other books, and 2) I got annoyed at Isadora’s whining.

What kept me going was the fact that I had already started and I want to be committed (at least once in a while) to my book club’s book of the month. So I prodded on, and after several chapters I concluded that there’s nothing anymore I can do about Isadora and her whining so I learned the art of tuning her out and focused on the narrative itself. Thankfully, the tactic worked and what could have been an annoying reading experience became entertaining. I focused on the prose which was very descriptive, sometimes wordy, and yes, I was scandalized by the nonchalant use of the c-word and the f-word and all those other words that are cringe-worthy especially if used every after sentence. But despite this, I had too much laugh-out-loud  moments with and at Isadora’s (mis)adventures. She was honest as she is confused, and her journey towards self-enlightenment (?), may be revolutionary (for her), but it isn’t something I would want to undergo. Nor do I share her longing for “zipless fucks”, thankyouverymuch.

Fear of Flying tells about Isadora Wing’s trip to Vienna with her psychoanalyst husband where she met Adrian, her zipless fuck, the love of her life, or so she thought. Every other chapter, Isadora’s goes back to the past telling about growing up with her sisters, having a best friend, meeting the men in her life, and how she ended up marrying Bennett. I enjoyed reading about Isadora’s past more than her “present”, especially her commentary about Germany and her abhorrence of the Germans, although I also enjoyed reading about her adventures while in Vienna, especially how conflicted she was about herself regarding Adrian. It was fun reading about how she contradicted herself every time.

“But no sooner had my defiant mood passed than I would be seized with desolation and despair, I would feel terrified of losing both men and being left all alone, I would feel sorry for Bennett, curse myself for my disloyalty, despise myself utterly for everything.”

I have never met a woman so conflicted, so lost, so miserable as Isadora Wing. If only she knows what she really wants.

“The more I hated myself, the more I hated myself for hating myself. It was hopeless.”

Reading Fear of Flying was entertaining, but the experience is something I can do without. At least there’s the beautiful and comedic writing and it’s something that has redeemed the book in my eyes.

“All the problem of love are problems of maldistribution, goddamn it. There’s plenty to go around, but it always goes to the wrong people, at the wrong times, in the wrong places. The loved get more love and the unloved get more unloved.”

*****

3/5 stars.

TFG Book of the Month: August 2014

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