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Friday, November 25, 2011

Fear of Flying

There is a long list of books I have always wanted to read, and Erica Jong's Fear of Flying is at the top.  The minute I hear that it's out in ebook format I download it as quickly as possible, then settle in for some Jong goodness.

And goodness it was.  As I have said often on this blog, I am a product of my generation.  What it means for this book in particular is that I am 40 years removed from the original publication therefore I am 40 years further into the depths of feminism and I-can-do-whatever-I-want-so-screw-you mentality of women my cohort.  We grew up not completely comprehending in a concrete way that there could have once been limits to what we want to do,  and we do what we want anyway without acceptance of these so-called limits.  That being said, I had to remove myself from the possibility of relating to Isadora, the protagonist and narrator, and instead put myself in 1971 to better understand her thoughts, feelings, and mental breakdown.

So the short version of the story is, Isadora and her (second) husband Bennett (her first husband cracked up and thought he was Jesus, which is a super interesting section of the book) hop a plane to Vienna where they will attend a convention of psychoanalysts, of which Bennett is one and Isadora has seen plenty.  While there, Isadora becomes restless beyond the realm of fantasy and falls for Adrian, a British analyst who will become the one she runs away with.  After running, though, Isadora is forced to examine herself--why she wishes to run away, why she is unhappy in her marriage, and what it is that will actually make her happy at the end of this journey.

Put into the context of when it was published and the need for women to re-examine their role in marriage and the need to search out a life of their own, this piece hits the nail on the head.  It forces the reader to look deep into their beliefs of partnership, sex, and the need for a separate identity from one's husband.  I found particularly moving the last few chapters when Isadora is alone in Paris and searching deep within to understand herself and what it is she needs.  It's not as simple as going back to New York, back to her marriage, and back to her life.  Something has to give, and it has to start with her.

I would venture in to the realm of calling this book a "history book" in the understanding of feminism in the context of the 1970's.  And we all know how much I love history.  So am I recommending this book?  Absolutely.  Do it.  You know you want to.

If you go to Open Road's Erica Jong profile, you will find a variety of retailers to get your hands in the ebook format of your choosing.

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