Picks and Pans Review: Parachutes & Kisses
by Erica Jong
Isadora Wing, the heroine of Jong's notorious Fear of Flying, returns in this sequel. It is 10 years later. Isadora has married Josh Ace, had a baby, become more celebrated than ever, thrown Josh out of the house after three good years and four bad ones, and now she is having sex with her financial adviser, a crude radio disc jockey, a rabbi who wears a bow tie, and so many other men that it's impossible to keep count. Her beloved grandfather, an unsuccessful painter, has died. Toward the end of the book she meets a man called Bean and spends a weekend with him in California. Isadora also journeys to Russia with a group of American literary figures and makes a halfhearted attempt to find her grandfather's roots. Bean meets her in Italy for a lot more of what they did in California. Perhaps 70 percent of this long, tedious novel is about sex in all its varieties. Jong makes the mistake of having Isadora notice Philip Roth in a hotel lobby, which reminds the reader that Roth has done this particular kind of book much better. Likewise, Isadora's sojourn in Russia reminds us that John Updike sent his fictional Bech to the Soviet Union in a far more interesting account. As the book ends, Isadora is 40 and her main concern is still a wild sex life—bolstered by an abundance of booze and drugs. Occasionally the book is funny, but Jong's writing is all at the same pitch, whether she is describing Isadora's birth pangs or an unpleasant scene with Josh. Nothing has any real weight. But for those who enjoyed Fear of Flying, this new novel is more of the same. Too much more. (NAL, $16.95)
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