Fear of Dying

Erica Jong. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-06591-9
More than 40 years after the publication of the cultural touchstone Fear of Flying, Jong delivers a not-quite sequel—an exploration of the emotional and sexual consciousness of Vanessa Wonderman, an actress who threw herself into the role of wife of the kind, wealthy, 20-years-older Asher when Vanessa’s “acting career had gone to that place women’s acting careers used to go when they neared fifty.” Now sandwiched between ailing parents and a pregnant daughter, and unwilling to “retreat into serene sexlessness,” Vanessa is “just unhinged enough” to place an Internet ad looking for someone to “come celebrate Eros one afternoon per week.” So what makes this a sequel? The website where she posted the ad is Zipless.com, the name ripped off from her best friend Isadora Wing, who coined the term zipless to describe a certain kind of one-night encounter in the original Fear Of book. (Fear of Fifty, a memoir, was released in 1994.) With Isadora, Jong ushered in a bold new way for women to talk about their sex lives and their desire to pursue pleasure for its own sake. It’s canny of Jong to tie this story back to Isadora’s original quest for something like sexual fulfillment—and Isadora pops up in this story to act as a wizened guide. Unfortunately, it’s Vanessa who narrates this story, and while readers may be amused by Jong’s trademark humor, which reads like catching up with a very chatty and revealing friend, Vanessa as a character is too self-absorbed to provoke any feeling other than relief when it’s over. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/11/2015
Release date: 09/08/2015
Genre: Fiction
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Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4668-7290-5
Hardcover - 366 pages - 978-1-4104-8623-3
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