Table of Contents
Also by Erica Jong
At the Edge of the Body
Fear of Flying
How to Save Your Own Life
Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of
Megan's Book of Divorce; Megan's Two Houses
Serenissima: A Novel of Venice (also Shylock's Daughter)
Any Woman's Blues
Seducing the Demon
The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller
Fear of Fifty
What Do Women Want?
JEREMY P. TARCHER/PENGUIN
Published by the Penguin Group
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Copyright Â© 1984, 2006 by Erica Mann Jong
Afterword Â© 2006 by Erica Mann Jong
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Published simultaneously in Canada
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eISBN : 978-1-101-07770-2
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Pages v-vi constitute an extension of this copyright page.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to quote from the works listed:
Beacon Press for lines from “Melancholy Inside Families” from NERUDAAND VALLEJO, SELECTED POEMS, edited by Robert Bly, copyright 1968 by Robert Bly.
Chappell/Intersong Music Group USA for song lyrics from “At Long Last Love” by Cole Porter, Copyright 1937, 1938 by Chappell & Co., Inc., Copyright renewed, assigned to John F. Wharton, Trustee of the Cole Porter Musical and Literary Property Trusts, Chappell & Co., Inc., owner of publication and allied rights throughout the world, International Copyright Secured ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, used by permission; and for song lyrics from “I Could Write A Book” by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, Copyright 1940 by Chappell & Co., Inc., Copyright renewed, International Copyright Secured,
RIGHTS RESERVED, used by permission.
Columbia Pictures Publications for song lyrics from “Physical,” words and music by Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick, copyright
1981 April Music Inc., Stephen A. Kipner Music and Terry Shaddick Music. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.
Famous Music Publishing Companies for song lyrics from “Mona Lisa” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, Copyright
1949, by FAMOUS MUSIC CORPORATION. COPYRIGHT RENEWED 1976 by FAMOUS MUSIC CORPORATION; and for song lyrics from “My Old Flame” by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow, Copyright 1934 by FAMOUS MUSIC CORPORATION, Copyright renewed 1961 by FAMOUS MUSIC CORPORATION.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers, for lines from “Dust of Snow” from THE POETRY OF ROBERT FROST, edited by Edward Connery Lathem, Copyright 1923, 1969 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Copyright 1951 by Robert Frost, Reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers.
International Creative Management for lines from “Kathe Kollwitz” from COLLECTED POEMS OF MURIEL RUKEYSER, Copyright 1968 by Muriel Rukeyser. Reprint permission by Mitch Douglas, International Creative Management, Inc., 40 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., for lines from “Lament” from THE SELECTED POETRY OF RAINER MARIA RILKE, Edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell, Copyright 1982 by Random House.
Liveright Publishing Corporation for lines from “in making Marjorie god hurried,” reprinted from TULIPS & CHIMNEYS by E. E. Cummings by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation, copyright 1923, 1925, and renewed 1951, 1953 by E. E. Cummings, copyright
1973, 1976 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, copyright
1973, 1976 by George James Firmage; and for lines from “the boys i mean are not refined,” reprinted from NO THANKS by E. E. Cummings by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation, copyright 1935 by E. E. Cummings, copyright
1968 by Marion Morehouse Cummings, copyright @ 1973, 1978 by The Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, copyright Â© 1973, 1978 by George James Firmage.
MCA MUSIC, A Division of MCA INC., for song lyrics from âTAIN'T NOBODY'S BIZ-NESS IF I DO, words and music by PORTER GRAINGER and EVERETT ROBBINS Â© copyright 1922, 1950, by MCA MUSIC, A Division of MCA INC., New York, NY. Copyright renewed. USED BY PERMISSION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., for lines from “A Prayer for My Daughter” from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF W. B. YEATS, Definitive Edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran, Copyright 1924 by Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., renewed 1952 by Bertha Georgie Yeats.
New Directions Publishing Corporation for lines from “Dream Horse” from RESIDENCE ON EARTH, by Pablo Neruda, Copyright Â© 1973 by Pablo Neruda and Donald D. Walsh, Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Random House, Inc., for lines from “September 1, 1939,” copyright 1940 by W. H. Auden, Reprinted from THE ENGLISH AUDEN: Poems, Essays and Dramatic Writings 1927-1939 by W. H. Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson by permission of Random House, Inc.
For Grace Darling Griffin
C. C. C. W.
I know that there are immense expanses
hidden from us,
... quartz in slugs,
blue waters for a battle,
much silence, many ore-veins
of withdrawals and camphor,
fallen things, medallions, kindnesses,
“Melancholy Inside Families”
We Are the Older Generation or Baby Boom Grows Up
I am delirious because I am dying so fast.
(It is, of course, impossible to judge what course evolution would take after human extinction, but the past record strongly suggests that the reappearance of man is not one of the possibilities. Evolution has brought forth an amazing variety of creatures, but there is no evidence that any species, once extinguished, has ever evolved again.)
separated from Josh, is like a kid in her twenties. Only like the kid she never was in her twentiesâalmost carefree. At thirty-nine, she finds herself possessed of a demoniacal sexualityâwhich has no need to justify itself with love.
Once the wrenching pain of the first separated month is past, she runs around madly, as if that way she could outrun her despair. Nobody, she thinks at first, is as good in bed as Josh. And now that she's flush (though she never believes it) and famous (though she never believes that either), impotent men seem to be everywhere! Why didn't anyone tell us that if women got strong, men would get doubly weakâas if in spite? But still, she diverts herselfâwith a drugged-out disc jockey from Hartford (her Connecticut Yankee Mellors-the-Gamekeeper), a cuddly Jewish banker from New York, a blue-eyed Southern writer from New Orleans, a cute Swedish real-estate developer who owns (and is ruining) numerous islands in the Caribbean, a lapsed rabbi who wants her to be his congregation, an antiques dealer who drives a Rolls and never graduated from Erasmus Hall High, a brilliant, astoundingly well-hung, twenty-six-year-old medical student who can get Valium, Librium, quaaludes, and Sonoma County sinsemilla in abundance (and in his spare time is discovering a cure for cancer), a plastic surgeon from New York who's into oral sex, and so many others she's practically lost track.
Everyone is into oral sex, it seems. Everyone has discovered the clitoris. In the ten years since she took off from Bennett Wing and ran (briefly) away with Adrian Goodlove (then wrote a book about it that gave women everywhere permission to do the same), the world has certainly changed. For one thing, there is more oral sex. For another, more impotence. For a third, sex is ubiquitous and yet also somehow devoid of its full charge of mystery. For a fourth, the world is definitely lurching to its end.
Isadora's generation is middle-aged. Those irrepressible baby-boomers, who thought they would never sag, bald, or die, are now sagging, balding, and dying at an appalling rate. A lot of them have ex-spouses in abundance, children on alternate weekends, houses in the Hamptons, houses in the fabled counties of Fairfield or Dutchess, co-ops or brownstones in town. Some even have stocks, bonds, money-market funds, lawyers, accountants, business managers, and hemorrhoids. (These things apparently go together.)