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How to Save Your Own Life: A Novel

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,174 ratings  ·  82 reviews
How to Save Your Own Life, by Jong
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published February 1st 1977 by Henry Holt & Co (first published 1977)
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This book charts the daily life of Erica Jong's alter ego, Isadora Wing, as she navigates her way through a maze of work, fans, friends, lovers, and an emotional vacuum of a husband. This is NYC in the 70's, and apparently everyone has a shrink, an avocado plant, and an affair. Isadora is no exception. Jong's writing is witty, candid and fast-paced. She lets you peek into her (I assume it's hers) world of hedonism, confusion and boredom. It's alternately hilarious (I actually laughed out loud 3 ...more
May 23, 2007 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: erica jong fans
This book is incredibly positive, and I really liked the direction in which Erica Jong took her character. The development seemed logical, and necessary. I usually have arguments with the "why" of passionate romances. I did in Fear of Flying. This one, I didn't. In some ways, Isadora seemed less mature than in the first novel, but I think that was a reflection of the love that was introduced here.

Just again, very positive and happy. You'll whip through it in less than three days. I took 24 hour
Was this the whole of the 70s? I know, I know, not everyone had the financial wherewithal to flounce about the city avoiding their cold husbands and drinking champagne. Still a strangely disturbing portrait of an era when "women's lib" was still a newish concept and a 32 year old woman with a career entirely her own could imagine herself trapped in a bitter-yet-tumultuous marriage.

I get the impression that the whole thing was a big, well executed dig at her second husband, by portraying him as
In Erica Jong's follow-up to her iconic "Fear of Flying," we once again meet Isadora Wing, her "fictional doppelganger," who is representative of the times in which she lives. It is the 1970s, that time of quest: searching for lust set against a backdrop of hedonistic innocence. In some ways, Isadora is a metaphor of the times: she is on a sexual journey, but also trying to find her freedom from a stultifying marriage to Bennett, a cold, detached, dominating psychiatrist. Second-wave feminism is ...more
This book pretty much picks up where Fear of Flying ended. A continuation of Isadora's story. I enjoyed it but definitely suggest you read FoF first if you haven't already. My edition of the book had a nice little afterword from Jong about her reactions to re-reading this story, some 30 years after writing it. It may be my favorite part of the book, actually.

some excerpts:

"The fact is - you can't really write about somebody you don't love. Even if the portrait is vitriolic, even if the pen is sh
What a sad and demoralizing sequel. Fear of Flying took the stance that women can desire, experience, enjoy, and pursue sex in the same manner as men. It was a groundbreaking stance that spoke to a generation of women who were taught to believe that only women of loose morals could enjoy sex, not a lady. Isadora Wing's guilty yet liberating sex fueled romp across Europe was endearing, relatable, and the voice of an entire generation of women.

So what happened with How to Save Your Own Life? Isado
I really wanted to like this book after being so disgusted by the stories of the passive women in Sara Davidson's "Loose Change." I mentioned in my review of that book how the most valuable idea I took from it was that the women of that generation learned lessons the hard way so those of mine wouldn't have to. I kind of feel the same way about Erica Jong's book, which is the story of the time she spent psyching herself up to leave her husband. While Isadora, the Jong character, isn't exactly pas ...more
Vicki ~ no time to read
Aug 19, 2012 Vicki ~ no time to read rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vicki ~ no time to read by: Debora
Shelves: realistic, adult
During: I don't really know what to think about this book [as I'm reading it]. It's vivd, and kind of morbid. The woman is trying to 'save her own life' starting with leaving her husband, which she thoroughly retells, event for event. Some parts are depressing, others are funny. Definitely adult content all around.

After: Okay, this book was like one half porno, one half self help book... Sometimes it just felt really demoralizing, other times it was really interesting. When the main character st
I've been wanting to read Erica Jong for a long time. I've read a few of her short stories, mostly in anthologies of erotic literature. I found this book on sale for $2.99 at McNally and couldn't pass it up.

Her writing feels so honest. It felt more like reading a friend's diary than a novel. I know that she fictionalized a lot even though much of it was based on her own life. It's a 32 year old woman's story of how she eventually came to leave her husband of 9 years.

Her honesty and willingness
The sequel to Fear of Flying, this is a barely fictionalized telling of the author's decision to leave her husband of eight years in the sex-happy '70s. In it she demonizes him and rationalizes herself and visits her friends to complain and have sex and generally comes off as immature and hypocritical. The writing is first-drafty and unremarkable; she mostly seems like a talkative type who types. Still, it's entertaining in the way reading through someone's diary could be, the scenes are lively, ...more
I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel--I wasn't expecting it to be so timeless and relevant. Sure, it is dated, but not in ways that are important. Jong uses some wonderful quotes and provides plenty of insight and food for thought.

This is a novel about how she finally gets out of a hideous relationship, and about her other friendships and romances, as well. She writes a lot about the various forms of jealousy which had been so much on her mind.

"Jealousy is all the f
If the words “cunt,” “clit,” or “cock” make you uncomfortable, you will be utterly desensitized by the end of Erica Jong’s How to Save Your Own Life. I considered counting the number of times “cunt” appeared (perhaps a dozen times per chapter) but I eventually gave up.

About seven years ago, I read Jong’s first novel, Fear of Flying, featuring the feminist and lustful Isadora Wing. It’s a wonderful novel about the sexual lives of women in the sixties, hard-hitting commentary on the politics of m
I can't get enough of Erica Jong. It surprises me sometimes that this was written in the 70's and yet I feel she touches something inside of me several decades later. I particularly appreciated this book more than fear of flying, because as she says so herself, she takes a much more optimistic approach at love, an idea she might have turned me onto.
After reading Fear of Flying about a year ago, I was excited to catch up on Isadora Wing's later adventures. While Fear of Flying was deeply emotional and poetic, the sequel was a lighter romp filled with interesting new characters and exhilarating encounters . What impresses me the most about Jong's books is how relevant they still feel. The questions of gender in art and romantic relationships still loom. As a New Yorker who recently moved to LA, I was shocked to see how the love-hate relation ...more
Barbara Rice
Her own life, she means. Jong still whining about men and then running to them.
For those that said "Fear of Flying" was taboo or saturated with sex didn't end up reading "How to save your own life" once that was published.

"How to save..." is inundated with flight, sex, self-pity, guilt, bemoaning one's husband, sex, whining, sex, guilty & angry sex, more whining, some traveling, girl-on-girl sex to REALLY spite the selfish & also adulterous husband, traveling, sex AND love, refusal of an orgy for a night alone with your lover (emphasis on the love), separation, pa
“The words carry their own momentum. A confession in motion tends to stay in motion. Newton's first law of jealousy.”

"So many marriages, so many deaths. People getting up in the morning and going to work, coming home at night, fucking, feeling dead. No wonder they left, ran off with their secretaries, smoked dope at forty-five, discovered sex as if they were Adam and Eve in the garden, and paid and paid and paid for it. Lawyers' bills, alimony, houses sold for half what you paid for them, child
Jul 10, 2012 April rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Baby boomers; Man-haters
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Because of MacKay Used bookstore I was able to get this book for free. The cover didn't look attractive. The author, Erica Jong, has an attractive personlity. I left Paulo Coelho aside and I went after this book and was charmed by her sense of humor, her real-ness, genuineness and eloquence. This book is meant to penetrate right to our hearts. Erica Jong is preaching the Gospel of Womanhood. Is woman entitled to be a being of her own without being totally lost in her identity in her husband's or ...more
Before I met with Book Club the other week, I'd have given this one star. But talking it over and realizing that Jong and this novel are, without question, a product of their political context made me realize that it has merit as a piece of history if not as a successful piece of fiction (or of writing in general).

Why did I find it unsuccessful, you ask? Because the narrator is a whining, pretentious, and wholly unlikable specimen of a human being and of a woman. I am, even after talking to the
I recently bought this book in paperback with fancy color cover after a decade of borrowing from my writing mentor the hardback with a black and white dust jacket.

The book is a straight forward tale about a woman who finally decides to recognize that her marriage has failed, that her husband is a bad fuck and a lousy person, and that only she can decide what she wants to do, or as LouEllen aka Eddie, paraphrases and says to me, "Get off the razor blade and stop cutting your pretty cunt."

[library e-book, plot summary elsewhere]

The rating is based on the importance of the novel as a period piece, and the entertainment value.

Is there any distance between Isadora Wing and Jong? To me there was a lesson that a '70's woman author like Wing, with money rolling in from her first book, could be so easily pushed around and mentally dominated by her husband, because those were the times.
Jul 28, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who feel they'll never meet someone else other than who they are or have been trapped with.
Recommended to Jessica by:
I bought this book because I had just had my heart broken by an ex who decided to admit he had had a 2 year affair with a woman who he felt a great connection with. In pain, I thought a book like this would make me feel better, like talking with a friend who really gets it because she too has experienced the same. At first I found a lot of the books many revelations to be kind of silly, forced, not believable. But by the time I was rounding the last corner of the story I really began to feel sad ...more
May 01, 2009 Angela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Recommended to Angela by: Kelly
Shelves: decent-reads
How to Save Your Own Life isn't so much a book as it a perspective, an anecdote of life in another time. Tear apart all your relationships and lay them on on the table for everyone to see and you might have something close to the equivalent.

"Where do you feel love? In the chest, as the straining of the heart against the rib cage? In the fingers, as if the blood were reaching out beyond the skin? For me love had always been a battle-a battle with myself-or with a male adversary. A battle not to
In French, when you want to address an elder you will use 'vous', which grammatically is the same as when you are addressing second-person plural. In English, YOU, is plural and singular, and in Croatian is the same as in French. We use 'vi' as a respect and as second person plural, and 'ti' for second person singular.

What am I trying to say? I am addressing Erica Jong with 'vous' because I don’t want to be disrespectful. We don’t really have common topics but there is a certain understanding b
Loved the title--obviously. Great 70's feminist awakening type stuff.. and I tend to enjoy and agree with Jong's blogging on Huffington Post... but after about 160 pages, frankly, I was done. She's already had two ongoing affairs with guys named Jeffrey, experimented with a lesbian affair (didn't really like being on top, but was DETERMINED to make her lover come--how goal oriented and male), turned down the opportunity for a three-way in a hot tub in LA, and is now happily in love and "winging ...more
Much like listening to your narcissistic friend complain about her miserable relationship until you want to yell "Just leave already!" There is some smut and an orgy, but the navel-gazing spoiled the fun.
This woman's books... Nice to read, love the story, LOVE the feminism. Right up there with The Awakening for me in terms of personal impression after reading. This is one that will be re-read.
This book was given to me by a colleague. While its definitely not the type of book I'd be attracted to & pick up by myself, it was a good read. V erotic reading. I enjoyed the plot twists!
Nicole Peaslee
Isadora makes a lot of poor choices when it comes to men but you realize it's for her own good. We wouldn't learn everything if we could predict the future, we especially wouldn't learn anything about love if we didn't get our heart broken.
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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
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“Someday every woman will have orgasms- like every family has color TV- and we can all get on with the business of life. ” 163 likes
“The worst thing about jealousy is how low it makes you reach.” 15 likes
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