Sunday, August 5, 2007
Book #31: Fear of Flying
Title: Fear of Flying
Author: Erica Jong
Isadora Wing, a writer who is about to enter the fourth decade of her life, attends a conference in Vienna with her psychiatrist husband. She meets another man (also a psychiatrist). She has sex with that man. She and the new guy leave her husband to go on a consciousness-raising journey throughout Europe, and Isadora has to decide whether or not she will return to her husband when the journey ends.
In my life as a reader, I've heard a lot about Fear of Flying. I've heard that it was a seminal work for many reasons-- that it allowed female characters more sexual freedom (could Carrie Bradshaw exist without Isadora Wing paving the way a generation earlier?), that allowed a reader to accept a delightfully screwed up protagonist (could Becky Bloomwood exist without Isadora Wing paving the way a generation earlier?).
Fear of Flying was loads of fun. And, for a buttoned-up girl who was a virgin on her wedding night, quite an education for me. I did get tired of all of the psychoanalytic mumbo-jumbo of the conference after a while, but doesn't it always seem like the people who put the most stock in psychoanalysis are the ones who are the most screwed up? Are they screwed up to start with and the psychoanalysis helps or does the psychoanalysis actually screw them up? With these bed hopping psychiatrists and psychologists, it's very hard to say. Yeah, Isadora's screwed up, but she makes being screwed up seem sort of fun.
--originally published 7/29/07