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Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  451 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Seducing the Demon has introduced Erica Jong to readers who hadn't been born when Fear of Flying was published in 1973. Now one of her finest works of nonfiction -and a New York Times bestseller-is back in print with a new afterword.

In Fear of Fifty, a New York Times bestseller when first published in 1994, Erica Jong looks to the second half of her life and "goes right t
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 7th 2006 by TarcherPerigee (first published 1969)
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Apr 10, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The four months before my fiftieth birthday I spent in what would be our new home, alone. And not only alone in the sense of being the only one living in the house, but also in the sense of human life around me, for our new home lies deep in the forest in a tiny village of (now 8, (but then 5). No shops, no restaurants, no cinema, no trappings of 'civilization', or at least not without driving an hour and a quarter or more. My goals were two-fold: Could I survive in such an environment, and coul ...more
Mar 17, 2010 Dawne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literati of a certain age.
Recommended to Dawne by: NPR
I would have to agree with Susan Cheever that this is the best book about being a woman I have ever read. I seem to be devouring the memoirs of women of a certain age, as they keep me from total panic over my impending birthday. Here's a little nugget I liked:

Part of us wants to love like the goddesses--
coldly and capriciously. Part of us owes
allegiance to Kali, eating her lover and
attaching his skull to her waist. Part of us
wants to love like Juno, scooping up mortal men,
toying with t
May 30, 2008 tee rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, gave-away
I haven't read any of Jong's other books and I don't know I'd want to. Probably a strange thing to do; read her memoir of sorts and not really have idea of who she is or what she's written but recently I was going through my bookshelves and was disgusted at how many books I own that I haven't yet read. Jong's "Fear of Fifty" being one of them. So before I get to read one of my tasty new books that are sitting on my nightstand, I had to force myself to read one of the neglected ones on my shelves ...more
Feb 27, 2009 Jill rated it it was amazing
My copy of Jong's first memoir is completely highlighted in pink because so much of what she says echoes my own experience. On page 13 she describes the effect of emotional tyranny in her life,
"No complaints. Everyone needs something to shape a complicated character. Tyranny was the forcethat crteated my love of liberty, my identification with the underdog, my passion for the rights of man-and woman."

She also says, "We (women) must learn to be whole creatures in order to make women's freedom a
Linda Robinson
Sep 06, 2009 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With any luck, Jong will do Sashaying Toward Seventy. I found in my journal the word "sprezzatura" which means making the difficult look easy, and I know it's from this book.

Also: "...past fifty, we learn with surprise and a sense of suicidal absolution, that what we intended and failed, could never have happened." by Robert Lowell ~ "For Sheridan".

Cheery, innit?
Sharayu Gangurde
Sep 10, 2010 Sharayu Gangurde rated it it was amazing
One of the BEST BOOKS written by a feminist! I couldnt put this book down. It is easy reading, and very warm and candid. Erica Jong writes beautifully. All GIRLS must read it. It is that good. (Dont go by the title and classify it as something our mothers or women nearing/over fifty should read.)
Jun 16, 2014 Kristi rated it it was amazing
Fear of Fifty – A Midlife Memoir is a treasure, a gift to my 50-something-year-old self.

Erica Jong told about her 50-year-old self – the struggles, the balancing act, the feelings, the parenting, the men, the adventures, and the poems. Through her words, I gathered insights, advice, stories and encouragement, kind of like peering through the peephole on the door to an even richer mid-life.

Fear of Fifty is a gem, a loving guidebook to other women.
Feb 20, 2012 patty rated it liked it
While testing out for the first time adobe ebook downloads via library checkout, I grabbed this one, and now I'm reading it. Downloaded (free) Bluefire reader app, and can now read all adobe ebooks on the ipad.

The book itself was appealing in terms of book references, authorly quotes, wee bits of gossip concerning unlikely ones and other tidbits, which brings it up to a 3-star review.
Ok.. so I've turned 50. And while I don't think I have issues around age, after all it happens to everyone, I thought Fear of Fifty might be worth a listen. It's ok. I think perhaps if you are an Erica Jong fan and want to know how she feels about aging then take a look. Otherwise forget it
Nov 20, 2008 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
I read this book, but I honestly don't remember it well. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten most of the Jong books I've read and I'm not sure why. Does anyone have similar problems with authors?
Laura Durnell
Nov 19, 2009 Laura Durnell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-by-friends
I bought this book at Women & Kids First during a time in my life I would rather not remember. Meeting her in person for the first time is my only wonderful memory from that epoch.
Lori Crossley
Have just fallen in love with Erica Jong!
Nicki Conroy
Jul 04, 2011 Nicki Conroy rated it it was amazing
A lengthy review will come on my blog. I loved this book. So many great points made.
Jan 29, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it
Fear of Fifty is a designed as a biography that really serves as a treatise on the state of feminism and the many small victories and mega defeats; it is a way of looking at it through the eyes of a person who liberated many, and yet found herself trapped in many of the myths and chauvinistic traps that keep any real equality from occurring.
For the average reader it is a little off-putting that some of the loudest voices of feminism have been people so far removed from the lives of average women
Apr 03, 2007 Vix rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Women/Artists
First off, I love Erica Jong and I love Fear of Flying which is the ultimate book to read for young chicas.
This is about Erica as a person, her difficulty navigating the roles of woman and artist, and her confidence/confusion as she approaches 50.
What I love though is that through her recapping her past you get all these little insights and understanding of what it is to be a woman in the complicated world we live in.
It's like sitting at the kitchen table with your mom and your old aunts and lis
Mar 22, 2016 Ann rated it really liked it
Fear of Flying author Erica Jong's autobiography, (written in 1994 when she was fifty) was another thrift store find for me. Her books are always a good read, and I enjoyed her auto-biography. I've not read all her novels, but now that I remember what a good writer she is, with such a clear voice on women and their lives, I plan to re-read (and read for the first time) her novels. I know that at one time I owned several of her books. But, where are they? Guess they were given away long ago.
Oct 19, 2014 Lara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I read Fear of Flying when it came out, so can't remember it save for the 'zipless fuck' phrase and that I enjoyed it, a breath of fresh air.

So I was intrigued by the 'Fear of Fifty' title. It turned our to be a a memoir of sorts from Jong, who sees herself as a writer and feminist, and has - from my perspective - a more traditionally 'masculine' attitude towards sex and relationships. Found it interesting and thought-provoking, but often purposefully vague.
Laurie Mcclary
Feb 14, 2016 Laurie Mcclary rated it liked it
Erica Jong has lived a fast and hard life, much of which she brings on herself. She is passionate, flamboyant and reminds me of Joan Rivers. However, through all her trials, challenges and bizarre situations she writes and sometimes she writes well. She gives an interesting perspective to the life of a writer, some I agree with and some not, but isn't that they way it goes with much of life?
Gwen Veazey
Jul 12, 2015 Gwen Veazey rated it really liked it
It was really fun to read this book immediately after reading Fear of Flying, and get the story behind the story. A rich and leisurely autobiography by a gifted writer dedicated to her work. She was born in 1942, and this was published in 1994.
بثينة الدسوقي
Feb 14, 2012 بثينة الدسوقي marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-buy
I read a small part of this book translated to Arabic, It touched me a lot, thought it's me who was writing this as it resembles my own style!
I should have a copy in English just to feel the full joy.
Dec 04, 2009 Linda rated it liked it
I loved Erica Jong 20 years ago but I found this a bit hard to get into, it did improve as it went on and generally is a good read, but I guess when I was a 20yo and reading Fear of Flying, no other Erica Jong book could feel that fabulous
Dec 02, 2013 Erocchio rated it it was ok
Not worth reading for me. I gave up after starting it.
Sep 10, 2009 Cindy rated it liked it
some good parts but too much ranting on social issues from skewed feminist perspective
I am a feminist but Erica is pushing the poor oppressed rich and successful me envelope
Aug 03, 2013 Victoria rated it really liked it
Very thought-provoking.
Jan 14, 2016 Kathryn rated it it was ok
20 year old book, still kinda relevant. Lost interest around 50 pages in.
hmm. maybe i should re-read this when i'm 50.
Jul 12, 2015 Kalpanaa rated it it was amazing
Exactly what I needed to read in my 49th year.
Apr 04, 2014 Eliana added it
Beautifully gifted artist writer with a wry yet good humored, worldview and a penchant for adventure!
Melissa rated it really liked it
Nov 28, 2012
Masha rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2008
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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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“That is what you love a friend for: the ability to change your angle of vision, bring back your best self when you feel worst. And speak the truth -- but without malice. Loving candour is the secret of friendship.” 12 likes
“But the great compensation for being fifty in a culture that is not kind to older women is that you care less about criticism and you are less afraid of confrontation. In a world not made for women, criticism and ridicule follow us all the days of our lives. Usually they are indications that we are doing something right.” 10 likes
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