In Conversations with Erica Jong one of the most popular and controversial of contemporary writers has her say.
She was already an established poet when she published Fear of Flying (1973), but the novel's sensational reception came to overshadow all her work. In interviews from 1973 to 2001, Jong relates the extra-ordinary experience she gained as a pioneer of sexual writing from a female point of view.
With equal attention to the art of fiction and poetry, she yields her views on the literary scene and on the place of poetry in American society. Among the highlights of the book is Jong's account of the publication of Fear of Flying and its remarkable, best-seller rise.
Cast into the role of spokesperson for feminism in the seventies, she has continued to represent her generation of women.
In several conversations, she talks about the tensions within feminism over the decades. Jong's fame has been deeply branded by the notoriety associated with sex.
She speaks for all women writers who have addressed sexual topics and who have suffered retaliation.
She tells the story of the struggle to keep writing honestly when the public's perception of one's work has made one a target.
She describes the difficulty of escaping categories created by the media and the critical community and the frustration of living in the shadow of one notorious best-seller. In Jong's writing, humor is a constant, and one of the pleasures of reading these conversations is her abundant wit.
Conversations with Erica Jong reveals the writer to be funny, articulate, and passionately committed to her art.
Charlotte Templin is the author of Feminism and the Politics of Literary Reputation: The Example of Erica Jong.
Her work has appeared in American Studies, The Missouri Review, and Centennial Review.