Cover image for Fear of fifty : a midlife memoir
Fear of fifty : a midlife memoir
Jong, Erica.
Personal Author:
First HarperPerennial edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperPerrenial, 1997.

Physical Description:
xxix, 366 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Originally published: HarperCollins, 1994.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PS3560.O56 Z468 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Since the publication of Fear of Flying, Erica Jong has had one of the most visible--and volatile--careers in American letters. Now this celebrated, colorful, and controversial writer offers her razor-sharp take on life as she turns 50. With humor, candor, and insight, Jong speaks out about love, sex, power, and feminism in the '90s.

Author Notes

Erica Jong was born on March 26, 1942. She received a B.A. from Barnard College and a M.A. in 18th Century English Literature from Columbia University. She also attended Columbia University's graduate writing program where she studied poetry. She has written numerous volumes of poetry, novels, and non-fiction works including Fruits and Vegetables, Fear of Flying, How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, Sappho's Leap, Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life, and It Was Eight Years Ago Today (But It Seems Like Eighty). She has received numerous awards including the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature, Poetry magazine's Bess Hokin Prize, the Deauville Award for Literary Excellence, and the Sigmund Freud Award for Literature.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Twenty years ago, Jong boldly exposed the truth about women's sexuality in the novel Fear of Flying. Now wiser and more generous but no less exuberant, Jong explores the paradoxes inherent in being a woman in this time of flux and backlash, especially for a woman who writes. Fear of Fifty is a tight weave of engrossing personal history and shrewd social commentary. It is, in part, about aging as the title implies, but it's really about growing. Jong isn't so concerned with the wrinkles or stigma age brings; she's more interested in how we learn and adapt over the course of a lifetime. Memories and anecdotes lead to musings about childhood and education, sex and sexism, femininity and feminism, art and ambition, love and responsibility. Jong scrutinizes all the mixed messages about gender roles she and her peers, the "whiplash generation," have had to cope with while limning memorable portraits of her parents and other influential figures and creating a series of frank self-portraits documenting each stage of her full and colorful life. Jong describes the torments and discoveries of writing, fame, and criticism; chronicles her marriages and a selection of love affairs notable for their sexual thrills and instructive ironies; and recounts her demanding experiences as a single mother. Her honesty about sex is priceless, while her insights into desire and relationships are remarkably accurate, funny, entertaining, and useful. ~--Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

This autobiographical meander goes right to the jugular of the women who lived wildly and vicariously through Jong's The Fear of Flying in the early '70s--and the book will likely sell big. Unfortunately, the package doesn't live up to its wrapping. Jong talks randomly of her youth, her four marriages, a great deal about her daughter Molly (by husband Jonathan Fast) and about literary celebrity. There are a multitude of sexual encounters, and now that Jong is 50 they have to ``mean'' something. ``In mid-life,'' she writes, ``I was drawn to memoir because I needed to understand myself before it was too late.'' What her readers come to understand is that Jong's depth of interest in herself is not easy to share. She takes herself too seriously as a pioneer and a thinker. No hint of humor intrudes upon these pages, nor any stab at structure either--chronological or intellectual. 150,000 first printing; $130,000 ad/promo; first serial to Parade and Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild selection; author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having gotten over her fear of flying, Jong takes on something even tougher: love, power, and growing older in the Nineties. The publicist describes this work as mature and reflective. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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