Saturday, September 28, 2013

40 Years Later, Does Fear of Flying Hold Up?

This year marks the 40th anniversary of feminist classic Fear of Flying. How has Erica Jong’s tale of Isadora Wing's trip to Europe in search of the ultimate sexual encounter — "free of ulterior motives," "no power game," "zippers fall away like rose petals"— withstood the years? Three Cut staffers re-read the book, and one experienced it for the first time. Join our discussion of "chick lit," narcissism, and literary LOLs.
Maureen O’Connor: To kick this off, I think the most central question is, how does Isadora Wing hold up at 40?
Kat Stoeffel: The only thing that was distractingly dated to me was the word prick to describe a penis, not a man who acts like a penis. Oh, and the casual racial fetishism/tokenism. And the drunk driving!
Charlotte Cowles: To me, the most outdated part was the psychotherapy jargon, but it was also fascinating — to think people were still analyzing dreams and Freudian penis envy! How exhausting, but also fascinating to operate under the assumption that all human behavior could be explained and diagnosed in such a fantastical manner. No wonder she's so neurotic.
Kat: But even if the psychoanalysis is no longer fashionable or credible, the self-absorption and anxiety still felt very relevant to me. I guess what's changed are the socially acceptable ways to talk about yourself: pop psychology, Gchat, astrology ("Whoreoscopes" to Isadora), molly, and Twitter. Not to be the person who brings it all back to social media.

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