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How to Save Your Own Life Paperback – July 6, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Erica Jong is the author of nineteen books of poetry, fiction, and memoir, including Fear of Flying, which has more than 18 million copies in print worldwide. Her most recent essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, and she is a frequent guest on television talk shows. Currently working on a novel featuring Isadora Wing—the heroine of Fear of Flying—as a woman of a certain age, Erica and her lawyer husband live in New York City and Connecticut. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also an author.

Erica Jong left a Ph.D. program at Columbia to write her ground-breaking novel Fear of Flying, published in 1973. Jong is the author of numerous award-winning books of poetry and novels including Fanny, How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, Any Woman’s Blues, and the forthcoming Sappho’s Leap. She is also the author of the memoir Fear of Fifty. She lives in New York City and Connecticut.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: J. P. Tarcher (July 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585424994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585424993
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(Bio used
Erica Jong--novelist, poet, and essayist--has consistently used her craft to help provide women with a powerful and rational voice in forging a feminist consciousness. She has published 23 books, including nine novels, seven volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, The Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal.

In her groundbreaking first novel, Fear of Flying (20 million in print around the world in more than forty languages), she introduced Isadora Wing, who also plays a central part in three subsequent novels--How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, and Any Woman's Blues. In her three historical novels--Fanny, Shylock's Daughter, and Sappho's Leap--she demonstrates her mastery of eighteenth-century British literature, the verses of Shakespeare, and ancient Greek lyric, respectively. Erica's memoir of her life as a writer, Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life, came out in March 2006. It was a national bestseller in the US and many other countries. Erica's much anticipated novel, Fear of Dying, is due for publication by St. Martin's Press in September 2015.

A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University's Graduate Faculties where she received her M.A. in 18th Century English Literature, Erica Jong also attended Columbia's graduate writing program where she studied poetry with Stanley Kunitz and Mark Strand. In 2008, continuing her long-standing relationship with the university, a large collection of Erica's archival material was acquired by Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where it will be available to graduate and undergraduate students. Ms. Jong plans to teach master classes at Columbia and also advise the Rare Book Library on the acquisition of other women writers' archives.

Calling herself "a defrocked academic," Ms. Jong has partly returned to her roots as a scholar. She has taught at Ben Gurion University in Israel, Bennington College in the U.S., Breadloaf Writers' Conference in Vermont and many other distinguished writing programs and universities. She loves to teach and lecture, though her skill in these areas has sometimes crowded her writing projects. "As long as I am communicating the gift of literature, I'm happy," Jong says. A poet at heart, Ms. Jong believes that words can save the world.

Known for her commitment to women's rights, authors' rights and free expression, Ms. Jong is a frequent lecturer in the U.S. and abroad. She served as president of The Authors' Guild from 1991 to 1993 and still serves on the Board. She established a program for young writers at her alma mater, Barnard College. The Erica Mann Jong Writing Center at Barnard teaches students the art of peer tutoring and editing.
Erica Jong was honored with the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature. She has also received Poetry magazine's Bess Hokin Prize, also won by W.S. Merwin and Sylvia Plath. In France, she received the Deauville Award for Literary Excellence and in Italy, she received the Sigmund Freud Award for Literature. The City University of New York awarded Ms. Jong an honorary PhD at the College of Staten Island. In June 2009, Erica won the first Fernanda Pivano Prize for Literature in Italy.

Erica Jong lives in New York City and Weston, CT with her husband, attorney Ken Burrows, and standard poodle, Belinda Barkowitz. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also a writer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By girldiver on September 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to read FEAR OF FLYING to enjoy this book but it would give you a little background to protagonist of this book: Isadora Wing.
Isadora is stuck in a marriage that is dying a slow painful death. She has begun affairs with several people to help her deal with her feelings or fulfill her needs that are not being met by her aloof, detached, and psychologically dominate husband of eight years. Isadora echoes many of the feelings modern women feel in their marriage and other relationships and is often very insightful.
Also, there are a few chilling moments in the book that took me by surprise. I won't give them away you will have to read the book.
So, Erica Jong takes you on a journey with Isadora while she tries to figure out what her future will hold and how to move forward with or with out her husband. This journey has lots of sexual liasons that are heartfelt, sad, and often hillarious. She speaks the truth about her sex experiences even if we are not ready to hear it.
Isadora is a woman who has gotten lost in the forest and can't see the trees because of the forest but is on a path of discovery. Isadora will discover friendship, betrayal, love, loss, and most of all courage.
I love Erica Jongs writing style. She is a realist but at times I often wonder how much of her books are fiction or autobiographical. I enjoyed her sequal to FEAR OF FLYING and do recommend it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By yygsgsdrassil on October 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
...the Great Erica Jong.
I remember people comparing her to Phillip Roth when Fear of Flying and this came out and since I was into popular fiction a lil more back then than I am now, I vowed to read one of her books. Little did I know back then that she would become one of my favorite all time writers. And I agree that this would be the better offering of the first two novels, because Isadora Wing, to me, seems more real in this one. And it tells of going thru a emotionally sterile period in her life and how she reached fulfillment. Wing is Jong and if you want to get an idea of how and what a woman thinks without being intrusive and obtusive this is one good way to do it...(however, don't rely on this alone). There is outrageous erotica, verbal play and plenty of first person quips all thru it and you will be thoroughly entertained. Don't forget to get a load of Jong's poetry. Read also Jong's great piece on Henry Miller, "The Devil at Large". Excellent writing!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
I had a dream the other night (no kidding!) which told me I HAD to read this book. Luckily, it was sitting on my shelf and I could take it down and start instantly. I roared through it in two days and loved it; it's full of humor, sensitivity, wit and candor; and though not every sentence is perfect and some references (eg. shag carpeting, avocados, Jacuzzis) are downright hilarious, the book is truly a marvelous read. The characterization of Britt Goldstein (aka Julia Phillips) is especially apt, if unkind. Overall, a wonderful documentation of a fascinating moment in a woman's life and in a nation's history by a self-styled "Amanuensis to the Zeitgeist."
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By on January 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Erica Jong does a wonderful job of capturing her heroine's ambivalence as she struggles to decide whether or not to leave a marriage that she finds unsatisfying and oppressive. The story illuminates the jealousy (and subtle undermining tendencies) of the heroine's successful husband once she starts to become successful in her own right as an author. A number of years ago, I wrote a paper on Jong's book for a college course entitled,"Philosophy of Literature." In the paper, I analyzed the book from a feminist perspective--comparing and contrasting the book with--believe it or not--Cosmopolitan editor, Helen Gurly Brown's book, "Having it All." (HGB is an incredible and very witty author, herself!--and the book includes advice on love and marriage). Jong is marvelously witty and insightful. The only shortfall of the book--from a feminist perspective--is that the heroine is never portrayed as having much strength in the relationship. Nor do we get a sense that she is striving to understand her husband, communicate more effectively, and, if necessary, take a stand--even if it means risking the relationship. The only way that Jong's character is finally able to leave her husband--and her unresolved marital conflicts--is when she met another man. Thus,while Jong succeeded in shedding light on a "feminist" problem (inequality, lack of respect, closeness and true love in the marriage, etc.), we are not given a positive literary role model of a woman who is able to become stronger and ultimately make wise decisions for herself and her marriage--apart from meeting a new man and having an adulterous affair.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deneene Bell on November 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Isadora takes a wise and wacky look at her life, her choices, and her future, going deep within her psyche to examine her relationships with herself, her work, her husband and her lovers. As she careens along in self-doubt and self-satisfaction amidst her newfound popularity as a bestselling author, we are taken on a bizarre ride, following Isadora to therapy, to California, on business deals, to an orgy . . . We are made privy to her most private thoughts, ruminations, and bits of lifetime wisdom as she tries to decide what she wants out of life and whether or not her husband plays a part in her future. A great read and wonderful follow up to "Fear of Flying."
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