cover image Any Woman's Blues: A Novel of Obsession

Any Woman's Blues: A Novel of Obsession

Erica Jong. HarperCollins Publishers, $18.95 (362pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016272-6

Jong ( Fanny ; Serenissima ) has consistently profiled clever and libidinous heroines who engage in series of bold adventures while striving toward self-knowledge and fulfillment. Once again she pens an amusing, picaresque novel that begs readers to take her seriously and appreciate her intellect; the story contains countless literary allusions and knowing references to culture high and low. Readers can also depend on heaping helpings of Jong's trademark approach to sex: superficially humorous yet deadly serious. She also plays Philip Roth-like games with the narrative, prefacing the novel with a mock-scholarly foreward to explain that the text has been pieced together following the death of its author, Isadora Wing, and interlarding the narrative with Socratic dialogues between Isadora and her heroine, a famous painter called Leila Sand. Leila battles addictions to an abusive lover and to alcohol; her fruitless search for ``ecstasy, skinlessness'' takes her through hellish liaisons and sadomasochistic encounters. Salvation comes in the form of Alcoholics Anonymous and the kindness of friends. The result verges on self-parody. As Fear of Flying was of and for the '70s, this book is clearly intended to address women's issues of the '90s. But somewhere along the way Jong has become less astute an observer of the times and more a self-obsessed chronicler. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)