QUOTED: Erica Jong Seeking Advice
“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
A feminist voice of the Sixties Generation, Erica Jong is best known for her 1973 novel, Fear of Flying, a frank and, to some, shocking depiction of female sexual desires.
The wildly successful book is a first-person account of a hypersensitive young woman trying to find herself and her place in the world. The novel, which opens on an airplane, memorably begins,”There were 117 psychoanalysts on the Pan Am flight to Vienna, and I’d been treated by at least six of them.”
Forty years after its publication, Jong worried that the only thing for which would be remembered was the book’s description of “the zipless fuck,” the term she coined for anonymous, no-strings-attached feminist sex. It came out of nowhere, she wrote, “zippers fell away like rose petals, underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff.” And it ended just as freely, without the pressures or expectations of a relationship.
Jong was born Erica Mann in New York City in 1946 to Jewish parents of Eastern European descent. Her father was a business person; her mother was an artist and textile designer. Jong graduated from Barnard College and got a masters degree in 18th Century literature from Columbia University 1965.
She married four times and had a daughter with her third husband. She has written 23 books, including nine novels, seven volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, the Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal.
Jong has written about divorce, a child’s book for adults, originally published as Megan’s Book of Divorce in 1984, reissued in 1996 as Megan’s Two Houses. She has written a memoir of middle-age, Fear of Fifty. Her latest book, another ribald comedy, is, appropriately enough, Fear of Dying.