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Fear of Flying | [Erica Jong]

Fear of Flying

Originally published in 1973, the groundbreaking, uninhibited story of Isadora Wing and her desire to fly free caused a national sensation. In The New York Times, Henry Miller compared it to his own classic, Tropic of Cancer and predicted that "this book will make literary history..." It has sold more than 12-million copies. Now, after 30 years, the revolutionary novel known as Fear of Flying still stands as a timeless tale of self-discovery, liberation, and womanhood.
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Publisher's Summary

Originally published in 1973, the groundbreaking, uninhibited story of Isadora Wing and her desire to fly free caused a national sensation. In The New York Times, Henry Miller compared it to his own classic, Tropic of Cancer and predicted that "this book will make literary history..." It has sold more than 12-million copies. Now, after 30 years, the revolutionary novel known as Fear of Flying still stands as a timeless tale of self-discovery, liberation, and womanhood.

©1973, 2001 Erica Mann Jong; (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"Extraordinary....At once wildly funny and very wise." (Los Angeles Times)
"An amazing tour de force." (Cosmopolitan)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (97 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
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3 star
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Overall
3.3 (45 )
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Story
3.6 (45 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kristi Winder, GA, United States 01-09-08
    Kristi Winder, GA, United States 01-09-08 Member Since 2003
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    "Glad I didn't give up on it..."

    I very nearly gave up on this one. I'm a woman in my 30's. I have always considered myself a modern, liberated woman. I had a memory of this book on my (feminist) mother's bookshelf, and of being titillated by the racey cover. I had heard that it was a seminal feminist book. So, I finally decided I should fill in this gap in my literary repertoir and "read" it for myself.

    However, as I listened I found I really despised the main character. I was completely unable to relate to her. My generation is very different from hers. I am happy in my marriage, my interpersonal relationships, and my self-image. I've never felt oppressed or smothered by anyone. This woman just seemed disgustingly whiney, neurotic, and childish.

    I am stubborn, though. At first I kept myself going by telling myself how good it was to see how far we'd really come since then. I thought it was heading for all kinds of extreme endorsements-- live in communes, forsake all commitments, want nothing more from life than perpetual free sex and empty "freedom". I kept thinking, thank goodness the pendulum has swung back from that extreme into some sanity!

    In the end though it didn't go where I feared it would. It more than redeemed itself, and I'm glad I stuck with it. It's about a woman finding her own identity, and while the details of path she took to get there ARE rather dated, the journey itself is as pertinent today as it ever was. It IS a wonderful insight into the dilemmas of being a woman, of the differences and conflicts between the sexes, and of what it means to really grow up and be a whole person.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 10-03-06
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 10-03-06 Member Since 2005

    Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.

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    "An enjoyably readable classic"

    I read this book about 20 years ago and wanted to re-read it now to see how it holds up with the passage of time. I really enjoyed it a lot. Hope Davis is great as the narrator. Really believable. I can still see why this book was considered "ground-breaking". Isadora's unembarrassed search for who she is still speaks to me and her open acceptance of her sexuality still seems pretty radical and brave. And not just because she talks openly about sex and uses a lot of "swear words". But because it really isn't about finding the right man, which she eventually figures out.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Los Angeles, CA, United States 01-25-14
    Melissa Los Angeles, CA, United States 01-25-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Why Didn't I Read This When I Was 16?"
    What did you love best about Fear of Flying?

    Jong's unflinching narrator finds her voice and her core through the course of this book. Many contemporary culture makers such as Lena Dunham owe a debt to this book.


    What other book might you compare Fear of Flying to and why?

    Books? Movies. I would compare all of Woody Allen's movies and later Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture and Girls to Fear of Flying.


    Have you listened to any of Hope Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    She carries the right outrage and coolness the book's narrator contains.


    If you could rename Fear of Flying, what would you call it?

    Handbook for Young Women: How to Avoid Distraction Through a Series of Questions


    Any additional comments?

    I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to read this. I hope it will provide her with iconography that she can identify necessary and sometimes painful transitions by. It is not theory, this conversational book, it is literature.

    If you make it to the end, listen to the interview with Erica Jong. It reveals her lifelong support of women's voices.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Nashville, TN, United States 11-22-12
    Emily Nashville, TN, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Surprised and impressed"
    If you could sum up Fear of Flying in three words, what would they be?

    Amazing. Like iris Murdoch but happier.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Narrarator was good but a tad too bubbly for me. I like hope Davis but she had a desperation in her voice which frustrated me. But I can't imagine another reader now


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I couldn't stop listening to it - the authors insight
    And experience were so real yet outrageous at times.


    Any additional comments?

    Wish I had read this one - think I'll have to re-read it now!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JOHN Plantation, FL, United States 09-22-07
    JOHN Plantation, FL, United States 09-22-07 Member Since 2003

    Audible Member Since 2003

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    "Oh puleeeeze!"

    I purchased this book more out of curiosity than a desire to partake of good literature. In that vein I suppose I deserve what I got. I listened all the way to the end just to be sure I didn’t sell this loudly ballyhooed best seller short.

    Just because a book is popular, doesn’t make it praise-worthy (except maybe to the agent and accountant of the author). Maybe I am missing something, because I really didn’t find much to cheer about in this book.

    Could its popularity be explained because of the gratuitous use of the “f” and “c” words? Maybe in 1973 these words spewed from the lips of a woman was considered liberating? I am no prude and am not offended by this language insomuch as I was bored by it. Frankly, I found the main character, Isadora Wing, to be a shallow, self-centered, disillusioned and dissolute individual. I have a strong suspicion she was the fictional embodiment of the author, as is so often the case.

    If you crave a story of a whiny young woman looking to “find herself” by sexing her way across Europe, you will enjoy this book. If you are looking for a great story, well written, you will be sorely disappointed.

    15 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niki Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 01-28-14
    Niki Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 01-28-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Put it in perspective"
    What did you love best about Fear of Flying?

    I loved the narration by Hope Davis it made the book come perfectly alive. I loved the way she did the British and French accents (her German was a bit off). It was like listening to someone talking to you.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed getting an insight into the mindset of a woman growing up in the 50-60s and being fully emancipated. I did constantly have to remind myself of the period the story takes place. Amazing how progressive in tought and subject matter Fear of Flying must have been when it was first published. Today, after Sex and the City and 50 Shades of Gray, we are used to women being so outspoken about such topics. No way was that so in the 70s!Self-analysis was a bit annoying at times. I kept thinking whether I was so naive and clueless when I was 27. But then again, I had to remind myself of when Izadora grew up and how analysis was the answer to everything at that time.


    Which character – as performed by Hope Davis – was your favorite?

    Izadora! Her attitude and internal monologues and dialogues cracked me up


    Any additional comments?

    Don't try to judge the book according to 21st Century standards and background because you will have a completely different experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Kirkwood, CA, United States 01-11-13
    Carol Kirkwood, CA, United States 01-11-13 Member Since 2007

    us about yourself! I'm a retired English teacher and ardent reader(more because of physical disability than from job).

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    "STUCK ON THE COUCH"
    What disappointed you about Fear of Flying?

    The main character never stopped self analysis. At some point the reader wants development!!


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    A book loaded with plot.and perhaps some humor.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The voice tried to clearly present her thoughts, butb I just quit caring.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boths adness ans disappointment. I remember this book as pivotal the woman's lib movement. Why?


    Any additional comments?

    Absolutely the most depressing book I've ever listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    beth CHATTANOOGA, TN, United States 08-28-12
    beth CHATTANOOGA, TN, United States 08-28-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Freedom, sweet freedom"

    I had wanted to read Fear of Flying for years - just knowing it was a woman's story of liberation. It was mostly what I imagined it might be. The narration was good, solid. The story was good and loaded the ending nicely. I appreciate the historical significance of this book in it's time and enjoyed the brief interview with the author at the end. I am a big fan of Henry Miller and must say, though it is lovely to have this liberation story from a woman, Erica Jong does not reach the soaring heights (nor for that matter depths) that Miller does in his inspired works of liberation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle St. Louis, MO, United States 01-17-08
    Michelle St. Louis, MO, United States 01-17-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Great for Girls Only"

    I'd heard about this book for so many years and I was always curious. It's VERY entertaining, but because of the the sexually graphic language I listened to it secretly! It also made me realize that not much has changed when it comes to the spoils of sexuality.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Fippinger Bloomington, IN USA 07-06-10
    Andrew Fippinger Bloomington, IN USA 07-06-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Great reader, dated book"

    Hope Davis does a wonderful job reading this book. Unfortunately, it is better read as a look into a bygone era than as a timeless classic that still resonates today.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 11 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Rachel
    Oxford, United Kingdom
    10/3/11
    Overall
    "Very amusing!"

    This made me laugh out loud at lots of points. I did have to turn down the volume when playing the book through my speakers with the kitchen door wide open....there's a fair bit of use of the c word which would probably offend the neighbours!
    I'm glad I've finally 'read' the book after it was constantly referred to in (my Mum's) copies of Cosmopolitan in the '80s!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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