Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Jong Show

A 26-year-old looks back on rich life, pens 'memoir'

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Is there any reason the precocious daughter of a feminist literary star should publish a novel at 21 and a memoir before most of us land jobs with health insurance? Moreover, is there ever a reason for anyone under AARP age to even consider writing a memoir?

You might want to contemptuously chuck Molotovs at 26-year-old Molly Jong-Fast (Normal Girl). The daughter of well-known author Erica Jong (Fear of Flying) and granddaughter of late commie pulpster Howard Fast (Spartacus), she was reared on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and in the Connecticut suburbs. It’s probably not going too far to think her road to authordom was less cumbersome than most. However, it only takes a few pages to learn she has talent. Maybe even a lot.

Her new book, The Sex Doctors in the Basement (Villard Books, $21.95, 192 pp.) is less a straight narrative than a collection of essays about coming of age with no idea what you should be coming to. For much of her childhood, Mom was involved in a string of poorly thought-out romantic entanglements, while her own vices — food, and substances less conventionally edible — provide more than their share of misery.

There’s a ping-pong game of narcissism and self-loathing that plagues New York like a regional case of psychological herpes. Fortunately Jong-Fast never panders for sympathy, as she knows her story is no Angela’s Ashes.

Even if we can’t feel her pain, though, we share her giggles. In fact, this funny book could stand to be more serious. There’s much to be said for struggling in the shadows of famous mothers and others.

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