[Review] Fear of Flying

Author: Erica Jong
Sourced: Bought it over 10 years ago for a college course, but snag it from Amazon for $14
Meows4.82 out of 5, for timely and personally pertinent content


Isadora Wing and her husband Bennett fly to Vienna for a psychoanalytic conference. Once arrived, Isadora meets Adrian who has the potential to not only be her “zipless fuck,” but also the man to unlock her sexual fantasies. Blatantly committing adultery in front of Bennett, Isadora begins a European exploration both mentally and sexually, while recounting the men of her past. Ultimately, Isadora learns to reconcile her need for love and her fear of being alone. Spoiler alert: this isn’t actually a book about flying.


“It is heresy in America to embrace any way of life except as half of a couple. Solitude is un-American. It may be condoned in a man–especially if he is a “glamorous bachelor” who “dates starlets” during a brief interval between marriages. But a woman is always presumed to be alone as a result of abandonment, not choice. And she is treated that way: as a pariah. There is simply no dignified way for a woman to be alone.”
page 10

“At times I was defiant and thought I had every right to snatch whatever pleasure was offered to me for the duration of my short time on earth. Why shouldn’t I be happy and hedonistic? What was wrong with it? I knew that the women who got most out of life (and out of men) were the ones who demanded the most, that if you acted as if you were valuable and desirable, men found you valuable and desirable, that if you refused to be a doormat, nobody would tread on you.

“Maybe [love] doesn’t solve anything,” I said, “but I want it. I want to feel whole.”
page 250

“It was also heartening to see how much I had changed in the past four years. I was able to send my work out now. I was not afraid to drive. I was able to spend long hours alone writing. I taught, gave lectures, traveled. Terrified of flying as I was, I didn’t allow that fear to control me. Perhaps someday I’d lose it altogether. If some things could change, so could other things. What right had I to predict the future and predict it so nihilistically? As I got older I would probably change in hundreds of ways I couldn’t foresee. All I had to do was wait it out.

It was easy enough to kill yourself in a fit of despair. It was easy enough to play the martyr. It was hard to do nothing. To endure your life. To wait.”
page 28


This is an easy evaluation since this book has been part of my permanent collection for over 10 years. 10 out of 10 toe beans, if you can appreciate the value this book brought to the table when it was first published. While it may not seem like a wild book now, when originally published in 1973, I believe it would have been shocking. While this is technically my second time reading most of this book, it is my first time finishing it from cover to cover (sorry, Professor Strickland). With that in mind, it still deserves 10 toe beans and is a book that will continue to live in my personal collection.

I love the feminist ideals throughout the book that almost come as standard in today’s culture and that a woman doesn’t have to define herself by a man, but that it is Isadora’s greatest struggle. I think no matter how far forward we move, many women will still struggle to break societal molds when they choose to not be married, to not have children, but still desire love. Contradictory as it may be, I love this book for all the reasons you might expect – that I will learn to be alone but in the instant I am happy by myself, I will throw it all away for either a great love, a zipless fuck, or perhaps both.


Anyone else out there re-reading college course books? Or reading books that were once “wild?” Like and leave a comment – I’m always down for a wild book.

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