cover image Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir

Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir

Erica Jong. HarperCollins Publishers, $24 (325pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017739-3

This autobiographical meander goes right to the jugular of the women who lived wildly and vicariously through Jong's The Fear of Flying in the early '70s--and the book will likely sell big. Unfortunately, the package doesn't live up to its wrapping. Jong talks randomly of her youth, her four marriages, a great deal about her daughter Molly (by husband Jonathan Fast) and about literary celebrity. There are a multitude of sexual encounters, and now that Jong is 50 they have to ``mean'' something. ``In mid-life,'' she writes, ``I was drawn to memoir because I needed to understand myself before it was too late.'' What her readers come to understand is that Jong's depth of interest in herself is not easy to share. She takes herself too seriously as a pioneer and a thinker. No hint of humor intrudes upon these pages, nor any stab at structure either--chronological or intellectual. 150,000 first printing; $130,000 ad/promo; first serial to Parade and Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild selection; author tour. (Aug.)