Wednesday, September 02, 2015

FEAR OF DYING by Erica Jong

(I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher)

I am embarrassed to say I have never read FEAR OF FLYING. It seems like a serious reading omission for any feminist worth her salt. After reading FEAR OF DYING, I have decided I need to immediately run to the library and pick up the one I missed.  Jong returns to the familiar territory of sexuality and marriage with FEAR OF DYING.  Vanessa is a 60-year-old actress happily married to a man 25 years her senior.  Vanessa's parents are both very old and ill. She is facing the hard realities of age while fighting to remain youthful and relevant. In an attempt to deal with everything happening in her life, Vanessa decides to post an ad in a Tinder-like service called Zipless in the hope of making a sexual connection and feeling alive again.

There is a lot going on in this novel. I would say Vanessa's frustrated sexuality is probably one of the least interesting parts of the novel. I love the fact that Jong is delving into the complexities of life at 60 for women. When I was in my twenties, I looked at the women in "Sex and the City" who were in their thirties and forties and marveled at how glamorous they were!  Now, I am 40 and looking ahead to Vanessa and her peers for guidance as to what comes next. Instead of dealing with common aging subjects such as menopause and body changes, Jong instead chooses to focus on not only desire and sex but also at the complex emotions that rise out of the deaths of our parents. The fact that Vanessa's husband is so much older than her also offers an interesting side to the story. The whole book gave me a lot to think about.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. I can't really explain why but I loved this book. I thought Vanessa was a wonderful character and found her struggles with death and aging incredibly compelling and interesting.  The ending was a little out there but I thought the book was really terrific overall.

No comments: