Wednesday, March 16, 2011

387. Fear of Flying – Erica Jong

History: Published in 1973, the book became famously controversial for its attitudes towards female sexuality, and figured in the development of second-wave feminism.
Plot: The novel is narrated by its protagonist, Isadora Wing, a twenty-nine-year-old poet who has published two books of poetry. On a trip to Vienna to a psychoanalyst conference with her husband, Bennett, Isadora decides to indulge her sexual fantasies with another man who’s name is Adrian, a psychiatrist from London. Meanwhile, Isadora reveals her past experiences with men, her family, the marriage to her first husband, the marriage to Bennett, her childhood, psychoanalysists, her first period, and mainly her fear of being alone.
Adrian coaxes her into his bed, encourages her to travel Europe with him. She realizes that Adrian really does not care about her when he leaves her in Paris to meet up with his girlfriend in London.
She travels to London alone and scared, finds Bennett there, and the story ambiguously ends at that point, the plot is not about which man she ends up with, but that she is no longer afraid to be alone.
Review: Originally published in 1973, this uninhibited story of Isadora Wing was a national sensation: fueling fantasies, igniting debates, and even introducing a notorious new phrase to the English language. In The New York Times, Henry Miller compared it to his own classic Tropic of Cancer, predicting, "This book will make literary history, that because of it women are going to find their own voice and give us great sagas of sex, life, joy, and adventure." It went on to sell more than twelve million copies. Today, Fear of Flying is a classic--a timeless tale of self-discovery, liberation, and womanhood.
Opening Line: “There were 117 psychoanalysts on the Pan Am flight to Vienna, and I had been treated by at least six of them.”
Closing Line: "I hummed and rinsed my hair. As I was soaping it again, Bennett walked in."
Quotes: “The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game . The man is not "taking" and the woman is not "giving." No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one.”
…it is "zipless" because "when you came together, zippers fell away like rose petals, underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff. For the true ultimate zipless A-1 fuck, it was necessary that you never got to know the man very well."
Rating: I loved it.

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