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Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life

Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life

4.0 5
by Erica Jong

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Erica Jong's memoir-a national bestseller-was probably the most wildly reviewed book of 2006. Critics called it everything from "brutally funny," "risqu? and wonderfully unrepentant," and "rowdy, self-deprecating, and endearing" to "a car wreck."* Throughout her book tour, Jong was unflappably funny, and responded to her critics with a hilarious essay on NPR's All


Erica Jong's memoir-a national bestseller-was probably the most wildly reviewed book of 2006. Critics called it everything from "brutally funny," "risqu? and wonderfully unrepentant," and "rowdy, self-deprecating, and endearing" to "a car wreck."* Throughout her book tour, Jong was unflappably funny, and responded to her critics with a hilarious essay on NPR's All Things Considered, which is included in this paperback edition. In addition to prominent review and feature coverage, Jong was a guest on Today and Real Time with Bill Maher. Even Rush Limbaugh flirted with Jong on his radio program: "I think she wants me. I think she's fantasizing about me." Love her, hate her, Jong still knows how to seduce the country and, most important, keep the pages turning.

Editorial Reviews

We should not be surprised that Erica Jong has composed perhaps the strangest -- and certainly the most libidinous -- writer's guide ever written. The author of Fear of Flying has made a career of naked confession. In Seducing the Demon, she writes candidly about three decades of erotic encounters, writing distractions, and her Great White Whale of desire: William Jefferson Clinton.
Publishers Weekly
In four discursive essays and an introduction, Jong (Fear of Flying; Any Woman's Blues) ruminates on the elements of her writer's life. Most notable is sexuality: pursuit of the muse has often meant pursuit of a demon lover, a man utterly wrong for her. She walks away from Ted Hughes in the 1970s, but not from many other wrong men. Jong has had four husbands, one child and 20 books in the past four decades. Now in her 60s, she's well-read, well-traveled, therapized, happily married and sexually satisfied. Her memoir in vignettes asserts that without writing, Jong would go crazy, drink well beyond the excesses of her past and be miserable. Writing has propelled her forward into a fulfilled life. There is a fine section on women writers who pursued death (Plath, Sexton, Woolf); Jong explains why she refused to be one of them. These chatty, gossipy essays are just serious enough to count as literary. Jong, however, shrugs off the immense economic privilege that allowed her to write and travel from adolescence and meet famous people who influenced her writing early. She also never explains how she writes. Engaging and amusing, this work is less substantive than it could or should be. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"The job of a writer is to seduce the demons of creativity and make up stories," proclaims novelist Jong, often regarded as one of the most controversial women writers of our time. Best known for her 1973 work Fear of Flying, she has been called everything from a feminist to a pornographer, and her work has left an indelible thumbprint on the landscape of American literature. Now in her sixties, Jong has much to look back on in this memoir: her life and loves (she married four times); sexuality (and its impact on her work); fame (she befriended everyone from Ted Hughes to Henry Miller); gossip (she allegedly had an affair with the now ex of Martha Stewart); and misfortune (she spent time in rehab for alcohol addiction). Though Jong discusses her parents briefly, any real sense of the author's background and the foundation of privilege that allowed her to become a writer is missing. As a result, the memoir lacks the intensity it would have had if Jong had dug into her familial closet a bit more deeply. Still, Fear of Flying has sold more than 18 million copies a testament that people still enjoy reading Jong. Therefore, this memoir is a fine addition to libraries as a complement to the writer's other works. Valeda Dent, Metropolitan New York Lib. Council Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A zesty, savvy, freewheeling memoir of the writing life, portions of which first appeared in the New York Times Book Review and The Writer magazine. Readers expecting gutsy writing from the author of Fear of Flying (1973) will not be disappointed. Jong vows to tell the truth about herself: her mistakes, her regrets, her divorces, her lawsuits. As she explains it, even the most uncomfortable things she did, she did knowing that she would write about them. She is candid about her addiction to alcohol and her rehab efforts, the time she passed out next to Robert Redford at a dinner party, her night in a Beverly Hills jail for drunk driving and, of course, her sexual encounters. "I kill my enemies with words," she writes, and her rebuttal of Martha Stewart's claim that Jong ruined her marriage is a demonstration of that skill. Her take on Hollywood and the perils of being a novice in the business of turning a novel into a movie could be a book all by itself. As it is, it's a trenchant profile of the late producer Julia Phillips. Her descriptive powers come to the fore in her account of living, loving and working in Venice. From time to time, Jong turns to the art of writing, describing her own character-driven approach to the novel; her techniques for summoning up the muse (or in her case, "seducing the demon" of creativity); and the importance of writing the truth. She also pays tribute to the women poets who influenced her generation, especially Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath, who spoke "straight from the female gut." Name-dropping abounds, but not offensively so; it's all part of creating a picture of the world into which Jong was propelled by early fame. Brief stories about her parents'lives suggest another book waiting to be written. If leaving the reader wanting more is the mark of success, then Jong succeeds.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.49(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range:
18 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Erica Jong is the author of nineteen books of poetry, fiction, and memoir, including Fear of Flying, which has more than 18 million copies in print worldwide. Her most recent essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, and she is a frequent guest on television talk shows. Currently working on a novel featuring Isadora Wing—the heroine of Fear of Flying—as a woman of a certain age, Erica and her lawyer husband live in New York City and Connecticut. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also an author.

Erica Jong left a Ph.D. program at Columbia to write her ground-breaking novel Fear of Flying, published in 1973. Jong is the author of numerous award-winning books of poetry and novels including Fanny, How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, Any Woman’s Blues, and the forthcoming Sappho’s Leap. She is also the author of the memoir Fear of Fifty. She lives in New York City and Connecticut.

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Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thank Miss Jong for sharing her life with the public. God bless her. It takes one to be one to know one. The first day I became a writer, I started to understand the twilight zone of being that one. This is a good book showing the symbolic path that almost every one of us has to go through. All of her 20 books have touched a million human hearts and this book 'Seducing the Demon' had touched a million and one which is mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book after hearing Ms. Jong interviewed on NPR and was intrigued. I also picked up Fear of Flying (having never read it) and Fear of Fifty (as the age is breathing down my neck). I read the three books within a week. As I read Seducing the Demons, I could not help thinking, 'didn't I just read this?' This book is good on it's own, but it seems to be a more concise and updated version of Fear of Fifty. Even the 'advise' to writers did not seem much different than her musing on writing in Fear of Fifty. All three books made for fascinating reading, but my money, Fear of Fifty was the meatier.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: look up newb. Gender: F. Looks: is a black cat with violent red eyes a collar with teeth and a raven skull and she has very very sharp and long claws. Personality: is always up for a fight and is very bitter and mean rarely kind. Powers: fire, wind, teleportation, heat vision and very strong, smart and agile. Weaknesses: princes and princesses. Age: 10 months. Other: she hates the word 'tasty' and she claws you when you say it
Dr_Wilson_Trivino More than 1 year ago
Writers write and all others make excuses is the old maxim and that is what Erica Jong has discovered in her life as a writer. She always knew she was a writer but did not know how to venture to the other side. She would fantasize with her favorite authors, she would meticulously keep notes of wisdom from great writers. Then she finally wrote a book about a woman writer who was afraid of writing and it became an all time best seller in Fear in Flying. In Seducing the Demon: Writing for my Life by Erica Jong, Jong does a marvelous job of expressing her inner thoughts and exposing the vulnerability that makes her writing so enjoyable. You sense you are somehow captured in the intimacy of her brain. This book is more than merely understanding the writer¿s life but it allows anyone to realize that they hold the key to unlocking the path to discovering and living their dreams.