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Archives > [F2F Book Discussions] August 2014: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong | Moderator: Marie

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message 1: by Marie (last edited Jul 29, 2014 06:33PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Hi TFG peeps! I am Marie, and I will be this month's moderator. The topic I chose is erotica semi-autobiographies with sex. :-) The book chosen this month is Erica Jong's uninhabited novel, Fear of Flying.

Link to an epub copy

Suggested reading schedule:
Week 1 (July 28 - August 3): Chapters 1 - 9
Week 2 (August 4 - 10): Chapters 10 - 19
Week 3 (August 11 - 15) : Afterword, various interviews & related articles

I found copies of the book in National Bookstore. I found my copy in Booksale.

Update: Fully Booked has two copies. It's the same edition that I have (ISBN 0-451-20943-5), priced at 640 pesos. These copies are at Greenbelt 5 (which I had reserved under my name so just tell me if you want it & I will text them) and at Alabang Town Center.

Discussion proper:
I'll probably post something 2 or 3 times a week. These might be questions, exercises, activities, or maybe an article or interview to read. I'll try to be as PG as possible for the online discussion so that everybody can join in (and so that we won't be reported to the Goodreads admin, hahaha).

I'll write the Activity #1 in the next post.

message 2: by Marie (last edited Jul 28, 2014 11:38PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Activity #1:

For those who had not read it before:
Write down what you had heard/read about the book, your expectations, and your initial thoughts about it.

For those who had read it already:
When did you read it? Without spoiling anyone, what are your feelings or thoughts about the book? Are you going to reread it this time around?

message 3: by Paolo (new)

Paolo Had not read this before. Haven't actually heard about it at all before.

It sounds like a very controversial piece of work. I hear it's very feminist, has a lot of sex (not sure if it's also erotica or the like), and its detractors seem to dislike the main character a lot.

Not sure what to think about it really. I'll just jump in and start reading tonight.

message 4: by Kristel (last edited Jul 28, 2014 06:50AM) (new)

Kristel (fanarchist) | 489 comments Activity 1: Already Read

(view spoiler)

message 5: by Angus (new)

Angus (angusmiranda) | 4337 comments Activity #1:
(view spoiler)

message 6: by DC (new)

DC (disguisedcyclone) | 437 comments Activity #1:

For those who had not read it before: Write down what you had heard/read about the book, your expectations, and your initial thoughts about it.

I have not actually considered this book at all before, although I've heard about it. (I only actually came to know what it's about thanks to the TFG polls, discussions, and what not!)

I've read a "semi-autobiography with sex" book before (Memoirs of a Beatnik comes to mind), but I'm excited to read this one. Not necessarily because of the erotic content, but because I'm interested to read about the "feminist" wave that dominated that era.

message 7: by Paolo (last edited Jul 28, 2014 08:11AM) (new)

Paolo I've done the math and decided to read around 24-25 pages a day on my Kindle copy - roughly 7% of the book each day - which more or less keeps me on the same pace Marie has outlined in the OP.

So for tonight I've finished until the part where (view spoiler)

I like the tone of the book so far. It has a sardonic wit about it. It's humorous in a biting, sarcastic sort of way. And I think it's great how Erica Jong came out early with the point about how (view spoiler) I think that even now - 40 years later - that ideal still pervades our society although things have certainly significantly improved.

Although at the same time, I can see where people are coming from when they say that Isadora is unlikable because she complains about everything. This is not to say that I agree - because I'm liking her spunky and spirited character (was totally rooting for her in (view spoiler)) - but when one gets to the part where she (view spoiler) it sort of dawns on you that she may have a tendency of being unreasonably angry about relatively insignificant things.

message 8: by Ranee (new)

Ranee | 1902 comments Downloaded the ebook! Hahaha. Had fun reading her biography and looking at her photos at the end.
Also, I have not read anything written by Erica Jong or even heard her book until last May when we voted for it. So really, I do not have expectations (i voted for the other book that talked about sex with a Chinese lover, hahaha)
But looking at her pictures, I have realized that Erica and I share something in common, bad hair days.

message 9: by Meliza (new)

Meliza (mecawish) | 720 comments Activity #1
I haven't read this book and I only heard about it last May during our f2f voting. I voted for Tropic of Cancer by the way because I have heard it before. Honestly, I don't know what to expect. You said this is erotica and I think I haven't read any erotica before. At first, I was just thinking that it's the book of the month so of course I'm going to read it. But since most of you started and said nice things about it, I'm kinda excited and will start as soon as I finish this eye-rolling book that I'm reading. Haha!

message 10: by Paolo (last edited Jul 29, 2014 04:05AM) (new)

Paolo I'm at the point where (view spoiler).

15% into the novel, I'm liking what I'm reading but can't help thinking if this tone - (view spoiler) - carries on consistently until the end.

If it does, the jury's still out whether that lack of variety in tone will affect my enjoyment of the book or not, but so far I think it's a solid read.

message 11: by Tin (new)

Tin (rabbitin) | 560 comments Activity 1:(view spoiler)

message 12: by Kristel (last edited Jul 29, 2014 06:07AM) (new)

Kristel (fanarchist) | 489 comments I actually quite enjoyed the first few chapters. (view spoiler)

message 13: by DC (new)

DC (disguisedcyclone) | 437 comments Hope it's ok if may random post lang :D

My thoughts by the end of Chapter 2: (view spoiler)

message 14: by Monique (new)

Monique (attymonique) | 2126 comments Activity #1
For those who had not read it before:
(view spoiler)

message 15: by Marie (last edited Jul 29, 2014 06:36PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Paolo:
Yes, the book had been touted as as a seminal (my goodness, I love the irony of using that word, hahaha!) work in feminism.

Erotica are works that deliberately intend to sexually arouse its readers. With all its talk of sex (or even simply the act of casually throwing around words that has something to do with sex (I wonder what's the word count for c*nt?)), do you think Erica Jong had deliberately intended to sexually arouse her readers? Are you aroused? (Okay sige, it's up to you to answer that, hahaha!)

I've read your other post, and my next question actually addresses one of the points you've raised. :-)

message 16: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments Kristel:

I can understand what you mean about it being a serviceable pop novel. Do you think that the casualness of the way of writing means anything? Or to change that question a bit, say Erica Jong had written the novel in a more serious way, would it have the same impact it had over the years? Who are its intended readers anyway?

I've also read your second post, and some of my questions in the next few days will address that, so just wait for them. :-)

message 17: by Marie (last edited Jul 29, 2014 06:35PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Angus:
I'd like to meet this college friend of yours! She sounds like such a bookworm. :-D

While Erica Jong did win some awards over the course of her literary career, the book (by itself) did not. How do you feel about that? I'd like to ask you the questions that I posed for Kristel, pero medyo iba lang ng konti. Do you think that the casualness of the way of writing is a bit bothersome? Say Erica Jong had written the novel in a more serious way, do you think it might have wowed critics and garnered some awards?

Btw, I also love the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of the book. Ganda ng cover! It's by an Israeli illustration, Noma Bar. Check out his other illustrations, ang gaganda: Dutch Uncle - Noma Bar

message 18: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments DC:
My original theme was supposed to be erotica, but when I decided on the three books to be voted on, I realized that I did not properly picked the three books with respect to the intended theme. Sorry about that! :-P

I'm trying to keep the online discussions PG so sa F2F na lang yung discussions about z.f., hahaha!

It's quite interesting to read the different opinions about Isadora Wing, and to think, we've been reading just the first few chapters pa lang. Parang it's either you like her or hate her. Why do you think there's such a wide range of views regarding our heroine?

message 19: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments Ranee:
Uy, pero uso before ang hair na parang hindi sinusuklay noon - think hippie fashion, hahaha!

Ano ba pwede kong itanong sa iyo? Hmm... hirap gumawa ng follow-up question if your answer is no expectations, hehehe. Answer na lang yung next one, which I'll post after the follow-up questions. :-)

message 20: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments Meliza:
Sorry talaga Meliza, I didn't choose the books properly for my original theme. And I when I realized my boo boo, I can't take the choices back na. :-P Pero in the end, okay lang naman since Fear of Flying is an interesting book to discuss, right? :-D

message 21: by Paolo (last edited Jul 29, 2014 07:15PM) (new)

Paolo Marie wrote: " you think Erica Jong had deliberately intended to sexually arouse her readers? Are you aroused? (Okay sige, it's up to you to answer that, hahaha!)"

This book is (so far) definitely not erotica :) The involvement of sex in the narration is almost too languid and matter-of-fact that it loses the excitement and titillation that (I think should) characterize erotica.

Not sure it will still come across as such if/when (view spoiler)

message 22: by Meliza (last edited Jul 29, 2014 07:18PM) (new)

Meliza (mecawish) | 720 comments Marie: Hala, wag ka mag-sorry. Hehe. I haven't read anything like this but I'm open to all genres. :) I said before that I am willing to read anything. :)

message 23: by Bennard (new)

Bennard | 730 comments Activity #1:
(view spoiler)

message 24: by Marie (last edited Jul 29, 2014 07:56PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Tin:
It's interesting that you used to lump erotica with romances. There are some questions that popped into my mind about that pero I'm going to give you an activity as a follow-up question.

Go to the website below and read a story or two. Then go back and tell us what is the difference between erotica and romance.

Enjoy! :-D

message 25: by Paolo (new)

Paolo Loved how the z.f. was described using the train scenario btw :)

message 26: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments Monique:
Naku, sex maybe but I'm not sure the book has some kinky stuff. I like that you're open to anything. :-)

message 27: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments Bennard:
I like your Woody Allen comment. Yes, there might be some commonality between Allen & Jong. Do you think it might be because they are both New Yorkers? Or maybe it's because they are both Jewish? Or both? Or maybe there are some other reasons?

message 28: by Marie (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:25PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Activity #2:

A question -

"There is no dignified way for a woman to live alone. Oh, she can get along financially perhaps (though not nearly as well as a man), but emotionally, she is never left in peace. Her friends, her family, her fellow workers never let her forget her husbandlessness, her childlessness - her selfishness, in short - is a reproach to the American way of life." (pg. 17)

The above quote was published in 1973, more than 40 years ago. Is it still applicable to us modern folks living in the year 2014? Why or why not?

The above quote was written by an American writer, describing her society's view of women during that era. Do you think it is applicable with respect to today's Philippine society? Why or why not?

message 29: by Paolo (last edited Jul 29, 2014 09:43PM) (new)

Paolo Activity 2:

(view spoiler)

message 30: by Bennard (last edited Jul 30, 2014 10:00AM) (new)

Bennard | 730 comments Marie: Maybe it's because they're Jewish New Yorkers. Perhaps if you add New Yorker humor with Jewish existentialism then you get Allen and Jong.

Activity #2:
(view spoiler)

message 31: by Louize (new)

Louize (thepagewalker) | 1830 comments Activity #1:

For those who had not read it before:
(view spoiler)

message 32: by Paolo (new)

Paolo The 8:29 to Frankfurt - what does it mean?? O_O

message 33: by Lynai (new)

Lynai | 1188 comments Activity #1:

For those who had not read it before:

Haven't read anything about Erica Jong. Haven't heard about her either until the poll was set up. Was prepared to not read it because erotica is not my cup of tea. But after reading this thread, I changed my mind. Maybe it's high time for me for some change in scenery aka read at least one erotica in my lifetime. Don't know what to expect, except of course that there will be talk of/about sex. I hope I get to finish this because (view spoiler)

(view spoiler)

message 34: by Marie (last edited Jul 29, 2014 11:39PM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments The 8:29 to Frankfurt - what does it mean?? O_O

Paolo, the poem is actually related to my next question. Pero I'll post it na lang maybe tomorrow.

Ikaw, what do you think the poem mean? (Answering a question with the same question -parang psychoanalyst lang ang peg no? Hahaha!)

message 35: by Paolo (new)

Paolo Haha! I'll have to read it in more detail maybe later :) I was just finishing up with Chapter 3 towards the end of lunch and my co-workers were coming back in the office by the time I got to the poem so na-hiya akong ituloy yung pagbabasa ko :p

re: Chapter 3 btw... (view spoiler) augh.

message 36: by Angus (new)

Angus (angusmiranda) | 4337 comments Marie: I don't feel bad about the book not winning anything. The award-giving bodies should be the ones to feel bad about it, so that means yes, I'm enjoying the book. It's like a 30-something-year-old woman's The Catcher in the Rye (I wasn't into Holdenism when I was a teenager, but you get my drift).

Noma Bar's style is wicked! I like the illusions that his art creates. I don't know what it's called.

Activity #2:
(view spoiler)

message 37: by Maria Ella (new)

Maria Ella (mariaellabetos) | 1351 comments Activity 1

I haven't read anything by Erica Jong, and after a friendly banter / discussions with pareng Nik (who is a huge fan of Henry Miller), I am expected to experience laughing and enjoying reading with all its rants and raves about a woman's frustrations.

(view spoiler)

Looking forward to enjoy this goodread. :)

message 38: by Ycel (new)

Ycel | 662 comments Activity #1:
(view spoiler)

Activity #2:
(view spoiler)

message 39: by Tin (new)

Tin (rabbitin) | 560 comments Marie:(view spoiler)

Activity 2:(view spoiler)

message 40: by Monique (new)

Monique (attymonique) | 2126 comments Activity #2
(view spoiler)

message 41: by Paolo (new)

Paolo Chapter 4 totally lost me.

(view spoiler)

message 42: by Tricia (new)

Tricia (triciuhhh) | 1752 comments Activity #1:

For those who had not read it before:
Write down what you had heard/read about the book, your expectations, and your initial thoughts about it.

(view spoiler)

message 43: by Veronica (new)

Veronica | 734 comments Activity #1:
(view spoiler)

Activity #2:
(view spoiler)

message 44: by Marie (last edited Jul 31, 2014 05:53AM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments (I'll post activities #3 & #4 in one go para middle of next week na lang ulit ako magpopost, hehehehe.. :-D)

Activity #3:

A question -

"Even without fascism, I was dishonest. Even without fascism, I censored myself. I refused to let myself write about what really moved me: my violent feelings about Germany, the unhappiness of my marriage, my sexual fantasies, my childhood, my negative feelings about may parents. Even without fascism, honesty was damned hard to come by. Even without fascism, I had pasted imaginary oak-tag patches over certain areas of my life and steadfastly refused to look at them." (pg. 95)

But is it good to be honest all the time? Are there certain situations that you know or can recall that requires you to be dishonest? What do you think is better, always be honest even if it's going to be painful (not just to others, but also to yourself), or be a bit dishonest, so that things will be painless to you and/or to others?

message 45: by Marie (last edited Jul 31, 2014 04:45AM) (new)

Marie | 295 comments Paolo:
Yes, Isadora does have a weird love-hate relationship with Germany. Maybe it has something to do with the poem at the beginning of the chapter, The 8:29 to Frankfurt, the one you are puzzled about. And perhaps it might have something to do with the quote in the question above. What do you think? Hay, ang mga tao (fictional or otherwise :-) ) talaga... ang gugulo ng utak, no? :-)

message 46: by Marie (new)

Marie | 295 comments Activity #4:

Research -

Bennett Wing vs Adrian Goodlove psychoanalysis fight!

Bennett was described as a conventional psychoanalyst who follows Freud, while Adrian was described as a follower of the (then) controversial Laing.

Some background: Sigmund Freud is known as the founding father of psychoanalysis. Meanwhile, R.D. Laing is considered to be a leading figure of the Anti-psychiatry movement.

(1) Google & read about both Sigmund Freud and R.D. Laing. Are there any differences? Are there any similarities?

You might be interested in reading this paper on Laing and Freud (optional lang naman).

(2) By the way, what does existentialism has to do with Laing? What is existentialism anyway? Bennard, is this similar or different to Jewish existentialism?

(3) Freudian concepts extravaganza, part 1: Adrian was quite insulted when Bennett described him as a 'part object'? What is a part object (this link might help)? Why was he insulted?

(4)Freudian concepts extravaganza, part 1: Isadora mentally calls Bennett her 'daddy'. Research on Oedipus complex. Is that applicable to their relationship?

message 47: by Paolo (last edited Jul 31, 2014 10:17PM) (new)

Paolo midway through Chapter 5, I just have to note:

(view spoiler)

e: oh I just discovered that this book has a film adaptation lined up, already with a directory and screenwriter, but I assume still very early on in pre-production.

iniisip ko tuloy kung sino ang mga babagay na cast :)

message 48: by Paolo (last edited Aug 01, 2014 03:14AM) (new)

Paolo Marie wrote: "Paolo:
Yes, Isadora does have a weird love-hate relationship with Germany. Maybe it has something to do with the poem at the beginning of the chapter, The 8:29 to Frankfurt, the one you are puzzled about."

I went back and read The 8:29 to Frankfurt more closely and it seems like she was having a dream on a train which symbolizes how she feels about Germans (mayabang? superior?), yet at the end when she wakes up, she's greeted warmly by the conductor, which contrasts with her dream. Maybe she herself is confused about her feelings towards Germany and that was what she was trying to communicate in the poem. Parang mainit talaga yung dugo ko sa kanila, pero di ko mapaliwanag kasi parang mababait naman sila talaga - if that makes any sense :p


Activity #3:

(view spoiler)

message 49: by Kristel (last edited Aug 01, 2014 06:41AM) (new)

Kristel (fanarchist) | 489 comments Okay, I'm just getting around to reading this thread so I'll probably be commenting in periodic tl;dr bursts. I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE.

Marie: Re: your question. I don't think that FoF would've been as effective a cultural force if Jong didn't adopt a casual and humorous writing style. For one, she's deliberately taking the piss at academia and the cultural elite, and these areas of society are built around very srs ideas conveyed in a srs tone.

(view spoiler)

Re: erotica's relationship with romance

(view spoiler)

message 50: by Kristel (last edited Aug 01, 2014 11:49AM) (new)

Kristel (fanarchist) | 489 comments Activity #3:

Okay, I will rant here in a way that is probably only tangentially related to the book, so please bear with me.

(view spoiler)

This part contains spoilers for the latter part of the book: (view spoiler)

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