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Fear Of Flying

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  14,529 Ratings  ·  1,239 Reviews
Compulsive daydreamer Isadora Wing doesn't want much -- just to be free and to find the perfect, guiltless, "zipless" sexual encounter. Pursuing this ideal across two continents, she discovers just how hard it can be to make one's dreams come true.
Mass Market Paperback, 277 pages
Published 1974 by Panther (first published 1973)
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Lizzie I read it in 1977 when I was 18 and in college. Some of it made more sense a few years later, after being married a bit. Response and appreciation of…moreI read it in 1977 when I was 18 and in college. Some of it made more sense a few years later, after being married a bit. Response and appreciation of this book has more to do with experiences than with age (less)

Community Reviews

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iw69: hello. i want you now

mannyrayner: do we know each other?

iw69: not at all, that's the point. i thought we could just have a completely no-strings-attached sexual encounter for its own sake, and then say goodbye. wouldn't that be poetic and beautiful?

mannyrayner: um, well, maybe. i'm sorry, i guess i should just be doing this and not analyzing it. can i at least have a name or will that ruin everything?

iw69: i'm isadora

mannyrayner: that's a pretty name. pardon me for being so old-fashioned

I swear if I have to take another page of this rich, uppity bitch's incessant whinings and first world problems, I'll rip all my hair out.

Isadora Wing sooooo envies the fact that German streets are cleaner than those in the US. She feels sooooo traumatized whenever she visits Germany because *drumroll* she's a Jew! In case you missed that info the first time don't worry, she will rub it in your face till you learn to chant it like a mantra. She won all her college poetry writing contests, edited
For whatever reason (possibly because someone I recommended it to wasn't that thrilled by it), I feel a bit like I need to defend this book lately, and since I reviewed it when I first joined this site and most people were writing shorter reviews, I'd like to give it a better write-up.

The premise of Fear of Flying is fairly simple: Isadora White Wing is in a marriage she isn't exactly happy with. Her husband isn't especially warm to her, nor is he incredibly supportive of her career (like Jong,
Jul 24, 2013 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather neglectful of reading duties (I shall admit to this very vulgar crime) for the lethargic days of summer, it was truly a rare treat to sporadically go back to this, a sly and sinful read. Yeah, it is DATED-- but, even in the late 90s, weren't the "Sex and the City" gals, too? That "50 Shades" is such a success should not be surprising-- it's just that the reminder that other people are having sex while you are (or are not) is.

I've been quoted before as saying that "sexual non-adventure is
Oct 09, 2007 Jessica marked it as aborted-efforts  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: zipless fuckers?
Recommended to Jessica by: i'm not so sure anyone did....
Earlier on this evening I was talking to my sainted mother on the telephone, and she noted that I seemed to be "reading a lot of intellectual books lately," to which I reacted with vehemently indignant daughterly rage: "I am NOT, Mom!"

Why my mother's comment should seem so thoroughly offensive is a fitting subject for my analyst (a mythical figure about whom I love to fantasize but probably wouldn't enjoy much if he actually existed), though not so much for the internet, but I've got poor bounda
Jun 26, 2008 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me start off by saying that I liked this book - I really did. Isadora Wing (with a name like that, Erica Jong brings the concept of 'thinly veiled autobiography' to new heights) is an exuberant and lovable character. I thought the writing was very good in parts, even though other parts read as if a six-year-old Erica was sitting in her bedroom with a Barbie and two Ken dolls, mashing them together and transcribing the dialogue (she does say she fell in love with her husband because of his sm ...more
Megan Scaison
Jun 02, 2008 Megan Scaison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: iconoclastic women, women who wish they were iconoclastic
Recommended to Megan by: my grandmother, second-wave feminism
I remember that when I called my grandmother to tell her that I was going to be in the vagina monologues, I expected her to react to the name: I expected her to be unaware of Eve Ensler and what V-Day is about. She simply said, "You should read Fear of Flying- it's like the first vagina monologue."

As it happens, she was so right. It's the kind of book you really regret not reading years earlier, when you really needed some of this information. If I'd read it as a teenager, would I have felt so c
Petra Eggs
Jun 15, 2008 Petra Eggs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zipless Fuck

My one and only one-night stand.

A review

to come

in more ways than one.
Mar 19, 2011 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
20 million copies sold? A seminal feminist classic? I am nothing short of incredulous. I'd say it was the pseudo-intellectual self-absorbed ramblings of a spoilt 29-year-old 'poet' that does not stand the test of time.

But let me first say, I'm not one to dole out 1* reviews. This is my first, and as an author myself, I've wondered what can motivate a reader to such an action. But now, thank you Erica, I have seen the light! It's when the distance between the reader's expectations and what is del
Apr 03, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with phobias of zips
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Liberté, égalité, sexualité or Pteromerhanophobia

When this book was first published the general consensus was something along the lines of "ooh madam"! and a lot of raised eye brows. I imagine people covertly reading this wrapped in brown paper and hoping that no one was looking over their shoulders on the bus or on the tube. And of course it would be the sort of thing that one simply had to hide from ones husband. Of course nowadays you could just download it onto your Kindle and make the text
Aug 17, 2014 Maria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erotica, buddy-read
Isadora Wing, welcome to my shit list.
Lubinka Dimitrova
Twenty-nine-year-old Isadora Wing (who’s recently published her first book, a volume of erotic poetry) is traveling with her Chinese American psychiatrist husband to a convention of psychoanalysts in Vienna. Emotionally frustrated and sexually bored in her marriage, Isadora is tormented, on the one hand, by her yearning for adventure, sexual rapture, freedom, and creativity, and on the other hand, by her need for the security and protection of a husband. She opts, at least temporarily, for adven ...more

Description: The radio premiere of Erica Jong's bold and bawdy novel about a young woman's quest for sexual liberation was a controversial best-seller in 1973.

1/5: Isadora Wing has been married to psycho-analyst Bennett for five years. But's she restless and yearns for the perfect, guiltless, zipless sexual encounter.

The sixties was spent doing, the seventies was spent writing and I'm sure that this was racy at the time and many women will have started to
Melissa Field
Dec 27, 2011 Melissa Field rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love this book. At first I was shocked by Erica's direct way of talking about things. But the more I read the more I realized how afraid I am of sexuality. She was so brave and open and I just wanted to grab some wine and drink with the awesome woman who wrote this. I laughed out loud several times. I loved how she had been through real struggles (sorry Elizabeth Gilbert) and had lived to tell about it. She was so brave, honest and open and I couldn't put the book down until I was d ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erotic, read-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Isadora Wing. Bright, blond, brash, brilliant, a frustrated poet in a sexually unfulfilling marriage who goes to Vienna, meets a man, climbs in his car and tries to figure out where she's going and where she's been, Isadora gave birth to a million chick-lit heroines and made and equal number of college girls dream about the adventures they, too, could have.
Traci  Medeiros
Jul 10, 2008 Traci Medeiros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could have a more natural visceral reaction to this book but I read it from a state of being all too aware of it's controversy and place in feminism and time. I wish I had discovered a dusty copy in a grandmother's attic or untouched corner of a used bookstore because that is really how it should be read... a discovery filled with self discovery.... but I went out looking for it. It had been mentioned too many times as an example and I had to read it for myself. I did instantly feel a c ...more
Dec 08, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women interested in sex, psychoanalysis, and Isadora Wing!
"Fear of Flying" isn't as taboo as I've heard. While sex is big part of the story it's conveyed through the want for passion, the feeling of immediate desire, and is an element used to not feel lonely for our protagonist. In reading Henry Miller's review of "Flying" I'd say he's right on the money with his want (at the time) for more female writers to be so unhinged when it comes to our most common fears and desires and not to feel like a slut for wanting these things.

While the story has plot p
From BBC Radio 4 - Riot Girls
The radio premiere of Erica Jong's bold and bawdy novel about a young woman's quest for sexual liberation was a controversial best-seller in 1973.

Isadora Wing has been married to psycho-analyst Bennett for five years. But's she restless and yearns for the perfect, guiltless, zipless sexual encounter.

2/5: Isadora Wing has overcome her fear of flying to travel to Vienna with husband Bennett to attend a psychoanalysts' conference. Here she meets a charming Englishman ca
I love books like this, books that challenge my views, ideas and expectations and the reputation of this book alone did that so there was every chance that this would be a let down. But it wasn't. Yes it challenged many aspects of my thoughts and opinions and there were times where I just wanted to shake Isodora back to reality but by the end she had a point, a confusion, a sense of chaos that many of us have felt about various things (and everything) at times that we haven't been able to voice ...more
Sarah Morgan
I found this very dated and not relevant to women today. Not only because the zipless fuck is less likely to happen but because the book dosen't seem to approach realtionships with any equality. The psychology of the book seemed like the most outdated part. For me the writting was not good enough to overcome the shortcomings of the story. I appreciate that the the book for the impact it made on women's sexual liberation and freedom, but not relevant in today's sexual practices or norms. More int ...more
Karl Marx S.T.
Mar 12, 2012 Karl Marx S.T. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erica-jong
At first, i was really hesitant to read the novel because of the authors' name.
I don't know why it annoyed me so much that i don't have the intention of reading it, if not for it's inclusion on the popular 1001 list. Well, we don't have to judge a book by its cover, but let us also put into consideration of not minding the author's surname.

The story is basically about the adventures of a 29-year-old heroine, Isadora Wing. Although Isadora is somehow indulge in her sexual fantasies, she is illust
Lauren Smith
Every kind of independence. Not for everyone, but liberating and identifiable. Go there.

I don't consider myself a radical feminist, (although dare to tell me I can't or shouldn't carry something because I'm a woman, I guarantee you there'll be hell to pay and I'll find a mistake in your grammar to boot), and, while this book was a radical book when it was published, I think Jong addresses issues that are not only revolutionary but also universally relevant (timeless and genderless). I picked thi
Sep 06, 2015 Makenzie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know those books that you wouldn't necessarily list as one of your favourites, but they leave such a lasting impression anyways? It's raunchy and slightly scandalous (or maybe more than slightly), but it's more so that because it was published in 1973. Which makes it incredibly interesting. And yet, it felt so modern and relatable towards today, which is especially intriguing because of how it was originally received. Sensationalized, but critics were still wondering, "women can write like t ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 16, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I imagine it's hard to read this out of context, but for as much as I've heard about its importance it was agonizing to read. Not sexy, not liberating, it feels like a story about a bunch of people whose lives are dominated by analysis/therapy. Just not interesting at all.
Apr 10, 2014 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction, 1001
It's been a long time, but I will try. I remember that I enjoyed it, but leafing through it again I am not sure why. I think it must have been the time that I read it. I was still angry about my first marriage even though I was happily embarking on another (much better and going strong, I might add, 20-odd years later), and Jong's rants rang true. Now I just see them as rants and wonder why I didn't say 'enough already, I got it.'

The John Updike quote on the cover I don't get at all: "The most u
Can't judge before I finish, and I'm only halfway done. My first impressions are that this is a pioneering book in the area, and I'm supposed to judge it for its pioneeringness than because I like its intrinsic qualities. Like Jackson Pollack.

Update after I finished reading:
She's a fantastic writer with a gift for vivid storytelling, but the story of her (okay, fine, Isadora's) life isn't a particularly worthwhile one to tell. Fear of Flying seems like a particularly neurotic precursor to chick

Complete marginalia here.

More like 2 and 1/2 stars.

The 2 and 1/2 stars are for the chapters that I enjoyed reading about The History of the World Through Toilets and that lovely part when Isadora reverently spoke about her mother, Jude (not obscure). And for all the funny parts when I laughed out loud. And I think I needed to believe that the nights I spent reading this were worthwhile.

In a way, it is. Reading this book with the forced sexual escapades and crude words made me realize one thing
When you're ready to graduate from Judy Blume, this is it.
Oct 01, 2015 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laid-aside
It started out okay, even though it's awfully dated, language-wise, and the fact that it was seen as shocking and liberating when it was first released. I heard somewhere it was so revolutionary at the time, that when a man went to a girl's house and saw this book on her nightstand, he knew he was gonna get him some. Then I heard an interesting recent interview on NPR with Erica Jong about her new book, and thought I should check this one out.

But this is not even a novel, though it says it is; i
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Erica Jong—novelist, poet, and essayist—has consistently used her craft to help provide women with a powerful and rational voice in forging a feminist consciousness. She has published 21 books, including eight novels, six volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times, the Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, and the New Yor ...more
More about Erica Jong...

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“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.” 687 likes
“It was easy enough to kill yourself in a fit of despair. It was easy enough to play the martyr. It was harder to do nothing. To endure your life. To wait.” 380 likes
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