Book Review

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

in early Jan I was quoted in the New Yorker and read a perfect novel

January 24th

I’ve got to that point again (and there seems no sign of it stopping as the way to fix it is by reading four or five absolutely massive books in a row and I just don’t want to) where my blog is two months behind me.

I’m typing this the evening after I spent an hour or two editing the very sad post I wrote back in November that doesn’t mention Dune Messiah. It took that long because a) my computer – which I’m pretty certain is older than my dog – is beginning to reach the end of its life (and the song I recorded last week (“Handsome Mr Dog (Your Name Is)” – listen here) may have been too damn catchy for the hard drive) and b) because I “wrote” that post on my phone using voice-to-text, so it was more like “translating” than “editing”.

That means, then, that I started my day reading about my own sense of despair, which though it definitely hasn’t abated in the two months of snow and ice and not writing anything since, isn’t as intense as it was after I, yet again, arrived “home” to a city that has nothing for me (other than possessions and, on the rare occasions when they’re not with me, my lover and my dog).

The day was dull and the same as tens of days I’ve had before, as all my days are except for that day two weeks ago when my blog was quoted in THE FUCKING NEW YORKER (haha haha hahahaha yesssssss haha fuck you h8rs hahaha lil scott manley hadley was quoted in the New Yorker last week and today – wearing clothes (and face mask, because we’re still acknowledging COVID-19 in Canada) that covered every inch of my skin except for my eyes in the queue at a coffee shop, a man referred to me as “that lady… err.. that person”, which is probably the most flattering thing anyone has said to me since I shaved my head in 2015 and made me wish I wasn’t too medicated to cry so I could cry tearrrs of joy)-

Sorry. This is going nowhere.

I’ve got to the point again where I’m not speaking aloud very much and I’m trying to drink less again but everything just feels… ah… empty without booze, especially as I’m still a week away from being able to resume my energising exercise-n-HBO mood lifter. 


Anyway, for a few days until two days ago, I was almost good and the reason – as the reason always is, with me – was because I was reading a truly excellent novel, Erica Jong’s 1973 debut, Fear of Flying.

Honestly, it’s one of the best novels I’ve ever read, and the fact that it isn’t famed as one of the greatest novels of the seventies is… oh, why could it be? Is there possibly a simple explanation for why a deeply emotive and evocative novel about sex and sexuality, about life and its purpose, about the pursuit of creative outputs, about mental illness and therapy, about travel and the difference between travelling and being a tourist, about the legacy of the Holocaust/Shoah (I don’t know which is the preferred term and Google isn’t helping) on the generation of Jewish Americans too young – just – to have been aware of the events as they happened? Yes, probably, because it’s written by a woman.

Fear of Flying, though, is phenomenal, and along with all of those big, significant themes, it’s also about the pleasure of romance and the pleasure of fucking (because those are two different pleasures (albeit with some overlap)), it is about the fallacy of friendship and the emptiness of family, about cultural hangovers and the ways in which national personas are built by those of and those outside a country and – often – how there is no overlap between perceived identities.

It is a text about manipulation and how some people are fucking pricks, it’s about how boring people are less hard work than interesting people (at least when you’re with them 24/7), it’s about poetry and prose, about shit and cum and menstruation and booze and piss and sweat and all the realities of having a body. It’s about wanting people who are best avoided (and that being often why you want them), it’s about casual sex and sex that is the most important thing in the world, it’s about being scared of flying and being scared of fucking, it’s about body image and self-knowledge, about hope and about fear and about how, really, anyone whose life doesn’t even look a little bit of a mess from a distance is hardly worth the time of day.

What am I saying?

I’m saying that it’s fucking brilliant, and if you are one of the surprisingly large handful (tho it remains a handful) of regular readers of Triumph of the Now and you’ve never bought anything I’ve recommended before, then let this be the one. There is loads of sex, loads of humour, loads of inventive and engaging structuring and loads of really raw and powerful emotions.

Fear of Flying is fucking phenomenal.

I would love to expand this into a forward for a new edition, if anyone who owns the rights is reading this, please reach out via the contact page or Twitter. I was recently quoted in the New Yorker, so I’m a big fucking deal rn.

Thank you for reading. I don’t really think I’m a big deal. I have very bad mental health lol 🤙

Love ya’! is 10 years old! Celebrate by sharing this post – or others – with friends (if you have any), family (if you have any), lovers (which I presume you have because this website isn’t for children), or by donating to the site via the below link so that I can maybe take a day off work some time and enjoy being alive for a few hours.

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