current readingPosted: March 30, 2015
Life has been disrupted from its usual routine for several weeks now, ever since we decided to sell the house and move south. My reading habits have been similarly disrupted.
Nonetheless, I recently finished two books on my iPad Kindle app that I was reading in parallel. The first was the Erica Jong 1973 classic, Fear of Flying. The second was Stephen Jay Gould’s final book of essays, I Have Landed. I was disappointed in both.
I expected Fear of Flying to be an erotic novel, or to at least have a number of erotic passages, although the Amazon reviews quickly disabused me of that notion. While there are one or two somewhat erotic passages, the sex is mostly awkward and uncomfortable. Jong’s protagonist Isadora Wing is perhaps an early feminist archetype, but her dilemma is whether to stay with her indifferent husband or travel Europe and have an affair with a similarly indifferent Brit. The motto “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” dates to at least as early as my freshman year in college, which was 1971. That mindset is nowhere to be found in this novel, however. Fear of Flying was a breakthrough novel in its time, but women today have a wider range of choices, in spite of the obstacles that sill exist.
I loved Stephen Jay Gould’s columns in Natural History magazine in the late 1970’s, but his final collection, I Have Landed, written in the year before his untimely death after a second bout with cancer, was for the most part disappointing. A few essays here and there caught my attention. I enjoyed his exploration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. but for the most part I was not engaged.