FEAR OF FIFTY by Erica Jong
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A half-century under her belt has not staled Jong's passion nor has painful controversy withered her talent for unflinching observation. This memoir is Jong's (The Devil at Large, 1993) meditation on what it all means for women encountering 50. ""We are the Whiplash Generation,"" she says, ""raised to be Doris Day...yearning to be Gloria Steinem, [and raising] our midlife daughters in the age of Nancy Reagan and Princess Di."" Jong now has a husband (no. 4), a 14-year-old daughter, a mother and father, and a senile aunt for whom she is responsible. In chapters often fliply titled -- ""The Mad Lesbian in the Attic"" (about her aunt); ""Donna Juana Gets Smart"" (about loving ""bad boys"") -- Jong ruminates eloquently and movingly on her roots (she's the granddaughter of Eastern European Jews and the privileged daughter of parents with frustrated callings to art and music), her flamboyant life (frequently played out in public since the appearance of Fear of Flying 21 years ago), and on being a woman in the '90s (""From the vantage point of fifty, the discriminatory cycle is utterly clear...we know we have reasons for despair""). The Erica Jong of the irrepressible libido and the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary is here. But a mellower Jong mocks her own infatuation with Literature with a capital ""L,"" regrets the messiness of her divorce from Jonathan Fast (the father of her daughter), and delves into her Jewishness, spirituality, love, and work. A chapter titled ""Men Are Not the Problem"" ponders the cruelty of women to one another. Reflecting bitterness-turned-to-puzzlement about the antagonism many feminists have felt to her work, she argues that women who demand political correctness -- whatever that may be in a given year -- perpetuate separatism and sexism. With a quotable line on almost every page, Jong's story is more than flash and fire -- there's poetry and wisdom, too.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1994
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins