A review of the novel “Fear Of Dying” by Erica Jong

American author Erica Jong wrote the mega best-selling novel “Fear Of Flying” in 1973 and the non-fiction “Fear Of Fifty” in 1994 and now she comes up with her 11th novel “Fear Of Dying” which was published in 2015. Although a novel, it is clearly inspired by the author’s loss of her two aged parents and the experience of her fourth marriage.

The narrator – like Jong, a New Yorker and Jewish – is Vanessa Wonderman, a television actor who is now aged 60 and married to a rich man of 80 for 15 years. In the course of the year described in the story, there is much going on in her life: both her elderly parents are close to death, even her dog has a terminal condition, her husband is about to suffer a near-death experience, and her daughter is pregnant. This elegantly written and witty work explains how she navigates such challenges, in doing so addressing some major issues of life and death.

In spite of everything else that is going on in her life, Vanessa signs up to a sex site on the Internet. Why? “I was too edgy, too curious, too afraid of dying” and “I am in a rage against age”.

On life, she insists: “There is no substitute for touch. To be alive is to crave it.” On illness, she observes: “You can go from the country of the well to the country of the sick in a split second.” On death, she opines: “We all secretly believe in our own immortality. Since we cannot imagine the loss of individual consciousness, we cannot possibly imagine death.”


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