Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fear of Flying

The best things I can say about Erica Jong's Fear of Flying is that gradually the narrator's somewhat shrill and very pretentious voice grew on me. This was disappointing. I had totally loved the novel when I was in high school. It had me cracking up, laughing out loud, and very immersed in the story and the writing. I think I was impressed by all the psychoanalysis and literature in the upper class world of New York intellectuals.

Jong was included in a segment on Makers, the documentary I watched on the women's movement, and this inspired me to re-read Fear of Flying, which is considered a feminist classic by some. I guess the fact that she makes a literary allusion on every single page while simultaneously using the word "cunt" was considered radical back in the 70s. But the effect on me as a reader in 2013 was that she was trying too hard to place her work in the genre of "literary fiction" rather than "popular fiction" - aka, trash. Her sexual frankness neither bothered me nor impressed me, and the plot seemed incredibly indulgent, raising cliche existential and feminist questions in a shrill, whining fashion that really turned me off. Again, I suppose this was innovative and refreshing when it was first published.

All that said, I actually began to enjoy my familiarity with Jong's alter ego, and it is worth noting that Fear of Flying is one of the few novels I've been able to complete in months. So, I did somehow find it readable.

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