- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (October 8, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805098585
- ISBN-13: 978-0805098587
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 241 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #455,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fear of Flying: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 8, 2013
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For all of its class-bound preoccupations and the cramped horizons of its political vision, Fear of Flying does remain an important document, of both the literature and the emerging gender protest of its age. Its greatest triumph is the depiction of a female psyche battling the forces of loneliness while still yearning for pleasure. It’s a brilliant portrayal of how differently women experience existentialism, romance, and solitude. —Natasha Vargas-Cooper
“The first true loss of intimacy, security, and love in a woman's life typically brings her face to face with the terror of being alone: She must endure the insane pounding heart and not go mad. This is what Erica Jong's classic novel Fear of Flying is really all about: being snipped from the emotional strings that tie you to a man, going into free fall, and, perhaps, learning to fly.” ―BookForum
“A passionate novel... the body wanting sex, sex, sex and love and safety, comfort; the mind wanting freedom, independence, the power to work.... wonderfully funny and sad, witty and agonizing, brilliant, sensual, serious.” ―Hannah Green
“Belongs to and hilariously extends the tradition of Catcher in the Rye and Portnoy's Complaint.... [F]earless and fresh, tender and exact...” ―John Updike
“The boundary-breaking novel that redefined sexuality.” ―O magazine
“The book that started it all by the woman who started it all.” ―Naomi Wolf
“Extraordinary...at once wildly funny and very wise.” ―Los Angeles Times
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Of the many remarkable things about the work is her inexhaustible ability to find exactly the right word. I was sent to the dictionary more than once and each time I found myself saying, "Perfect. That's the perfect word." Make no mistake. The book would have been a masterpiece even without Jong's exceptional diction. But, her word choices, cadence, drawing upon just the right literary allusion gives the prose a richness that any lover of language could lavish in.
I read the book 40 years ago, stealthily borrowing it from my parent's bookshelf. As a teen I found it confusing. Forty years later I found it spellbinding. Jong's work is lightning in a bottle that has lasted 40 years, and will likely last at least 40 more.
I found that it's certainly dated in parts---all the kvetching about psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts---but the central issues are timeless: individual desire vs societal pressures, the raw impulses of the body vs the demands of the socially conditioned mind/heart, the still-all-too-common cultural hypocrisies around sexuality and gender, the endless ups and downs of the habitual monkey mind exacerbated by an advertising-driven consumerist society, etc. And Jong is a masterful stylist---her prose is a pleasure to read, even the few dated or melodramtic/narcissistic parts.
Ultimately though, this book is an unwitting illustration of Buddhist philosophy---the last two pages are worth skipping to if you find the rest of the book unpalatable or unappealing. In a nutshell, Jong experiences a kind of enlightenment while soaking in the bathtub of her estranged husband's hotel room, waiting for him to arrive after having run off with another man for the previous couple of weeks and living precisely the kind of anything-goes, totally unfettered and hedonistic life she had always dreamed of and been so afraid of before, only to find that it's not all that either, but realizing it was necessary and beneficial for her to go through it anyway.
I loved Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" but have to say that "Fear of Flying" has more depth and universality, in addition to being equal or better in terms of reading pleasure.