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Molly Jong-Fast Interview

She's the daughter of Erica Jong (Fear of Flying) and novelist-professor Jonathan Fast.

She calls me Tuesday, July 17, 2006 at 1:24 p.m. PST.

Luke: "What effect did your memoir (The Sex Doctors in the Basement) have on your life?"

Molly: "I was walking down the street the other day with my mom and we went past [actor] Marisa Berenson [article] and she looked so pissed. I can never go to 57th Street anymore because Joan Collins lives on 57th Street. There's a BLT restaurant on 57th Street and I won't eat there anymore because Joan Collins eats there.

"It's made me even more paranoid than I was before and more neurotic.

"People hate me now. I've always been working for that.

"You get more people hating you for a successful book than for a book that says questionable things about them. Nobody's jealous of me. They'd be insane to be. They may be annoyed with me.

"I'm as cynical as I can be. I always thought that at 19, because I'd been a drug addict, alcoholic, in every casino, had an affair with every creepy psycho, but now I'm even more jaded.

"That's good news."

Luke: "Were there juicy stories you hung back on because you didn't want to lose friends?"

Molly: "Losing friends was not my motive. Being sued [was her motive for holding back on some stories].

"I will probably never write a memoir again because I've probably exhausted anything interesting about my life.

"Between my mom and I mining the same [material]. She got a DUI three years ago in LA. I really wanted to write about it. She wouldn't tell me, not because she was embarrassed, but because she wouldn't want me to scoop her. I knew something had happened. She came home early.

"She wrote about it in her book and it pissed me off because I had always wanted a DUI and never gotten one. When I was an adolescent drug addict, I always hoped that some day I would find myself in jail.

"I never did. It's very hard as a white semi-affluent...to find yourself in jail. My mother was able to accomplish something yet again that I could not. It's heartbreaking."

Luke: "How may years of your life have you spent in therapy?"

Molly: "Minus three? But I don't know that that's the measure of crazy anymore, unfortunately. I wish it were. Things would be more clear."

Luke: "Have you ever had sex with any of your shrinks?"

Molly: "No. It's New York. You'd have to find a really f---ed up shrink for that. My psychotic meter is good enough that I'd probably spot that."

Luke: "That's not something you've tried to bring about."

Molly: "No. I'm very appropriate about that kind of thing. I'm the opposite of my mother.

"I was wild with drugs. She was wild with sex."

Molly stands 5'8".

Luke: "How much of your life were you overweight?"

Molly: "Some."

Luke: "At what age did you get that under control?"

Molly: "It's something you always deal with."

Luke: "How has it affected your writing?"

Molly: "It is one of the best thing going for me. It's something that most women struggle with. The more rarefied I am, the less useful I am. I know a lot of writers who, the more successful they got, lost contact with anyone who wasn't a sycophant. They wouldn't interact with normal people. Their experience became less valuable. As writers, the most important thing we have going is observing other people's lives. The least important thing is what's going on with us.

"Issues about my appearance have dogged me, even into my years as a married person. I'll never get closed off from that because I'll never be that successful."

Luke: "When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Molly: "I don't even know what I want to be now. I go through periods of wanting to do something worthwhile in the world, such as a decorator. Of course there's nothing worthwhile that attracts me. I'm not good at anything.

"I'm getting you so depressed. I feel like I get everybody so depressed lately.

"It used to be that people would hate me and then they'd meet me and say, 'You're so nice.' Now people meet me and say, 'I'm so sorry for you.'"

Luke: "What about an English teacher?"

Molly: "I'm very dyslexic. And I get weirdly into helping people and they'd be living in our house..."

Luke: "What were your parents expectations for you?"

Molly: "I don't know. They didn't really have any. I was able to start a cycle of disappointment at an early age."

Molly attended highschool at Riverdale Country in the Bronx. "My mother had been a brilliant academic. My father had been an incredible musician and admitted to Princeton on his musical ability. My grandmother had this crazy marriage where Dashiell Hammett had been in love with her and tried to run off with her. She'd gone off with Madame Curie. You can never live up to that.

"I was this lackluster drug addict student whose friends were druggies. The school was JAPpy.

"Ohmigod, I'm making myself so depressed. Usually I have this pathology where I can talk about my life with complete and utter abandon, with a pathological attachment to it where 'This happened and then that happened...'"

Molly used drugs from 12-19.

Luke: "What do you love and hate about Jewish life?"

Molly: "I'm not very Jewish. We're members of a [Reform] synagogue and I've become exponentially more bourgeois in my adult life. I like that you're not allowed to swallow and no crucifixes and no little pictures of Jesus. I would not be cool with a lot of religious art.

"Reform Judaism. What's not to like?"

Luke: "Will you send your son to Hebrew school?"

Molly: "I don't know. I was never bat mitzvahed. I never went to Hebrew school."

Luke: "Is your husband Jewish?"

Molly: "Yes. It's great. We have all the Jewish genetic diseases. We have a one in four chance of having a baby that's going to die. People say, 'You have such great genes.' I have horrible genes."

Luke: "What's been your relationship to Judaism?"

Molly: "When I discovered I was Jewish at 13, I was shocked. It's pretty great. With Reform Judaism, there's not much to swallow. I grew up ostensibly Catholic. My nanny raised me Catholic. I know the Rosary."

Luke: "Can you say it?"

Molly: "I could probably. 'Our father who art in Heaven...' Oh, that's the wrong words. The Rosary is the one with Mary.

"I've had enough Rosary beads. I've never taken communion. That would be a sacrilege. But I've gone to church. I've prayed on my knees. I think I know more about Catholicism than many Catholics."

Luke: "Has God played any role in your life?"

Molly: "He hasn't struck me down, but no, not especially. I have some belief in God but I'm too embarrassed to talk about it. I'd much rather talk about being a drug addict."

Molly went to NYU and Barnard but did not graduate. She doesn't drink or smoke or lend her bum to other blokes.

Luke: "[Tobacco] is a gateway drug."

Molly: "A gateway to fun and happiness. I can't do it because I have a small child.

"You can't hate yourself with the same kind of zeal when you have a child. The love I have for him is exponentially greater than the love I have for anyone else in the world."

Luke: "Including your husband?"

Molly: "Yeah. And my husband feels the same way. If I had to save Max or him, I'd save Max. He'd save Max too. We've had that conversation."

Luke: "What have you learned from being written about?"

Molly: "Not to Google myself. I haven't done it in two years.

"I care. Part of me is like, 'I'm nice. Why don't you like me?'

"I've had a lot of people interview me who did not like me and I've been able to turn it. I'm a junkie. I know how to do that.

"But if I know how to do that, why haven't I gotten further in life? Shouldn't I be able to do anything?"

Luke: "Your next book?"

Molly: "It's gorey. It's upsetting. I hope all the fancy program ladies will stop talking to me after this. The hope is to alienate everyone."

Luke: "Isn't it tough to write something gorey when you have a kid?"

Molly: "No. I pride myself on my ability to compartmentalize."

Luke: "You don't think about your kid reading your books?"

Molly: "No, because I never read any of my mother's books. They didn't interest me.

"Do you have enough?"

Luke: "One more question. Would you rather have written a great book or have a great marriage?"

Molly: "It seems like neither is ever going to happen. I guess I'd rather have a great marriage. I'd rather be happy than successful or famous. That's the one lesson of my childhood."

Luke: "Why did you keep your name and not take your husband's?"

Molly: "That was never going to happen. That's not even a real question, is it? Why didn't I get my husband to change his name? I wanted our son's name to be hyphenated but he put his foot down."

From Molly's New York Times wedding announcement of November 2, 2003:

Molly Miranda Jong-Fast, the daughter of the writer Erica Jong of New York and Jonathan Fast of Cos Cobb, Conn., was married last evening to Matthew Adlai Greenfield, the son of Connie and Stewart Greenfield of Westport, Conn. Rabbi Sarah Reines officiated at the New York Palace Hotel.

Ms. Jong-Fast, 25, is keeping her name. She is a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts degree in English at Bennington College. She is a freelance magazine writer and the author of a novel, ''Normal Girl'' (Villard, 2000). Her mother's most recent novel is ''Sappho's Leap'' (W. W. Norton). Her father is an assistant professor of social work at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University in New York. The bride is the stepdaughter of Kenneth D. Burrows, a partner in Bender Burrows & Rosenthal, a New York law firm, and of the Rev. Barbara Fast, the associate minister of the Unitarian Church in Westport.

Mr. Greenfield, 39, is an assistant professor of English at the College of Staten Island in Willowbrook. He is also a poet and an editor of ''Edmund Spenser: Essays on Culture and Allegory'' (Ashgate Publishing, 2000). He graduated from Yale, from which he also received master's and Ph.D. degrees in English literature.

His father, who retired as the chairman of Oak Investment Partners, a venture capital firm in Westport, is the chairman of the Alternative Investment Group, a management firm in Southport, Conn. The bridegroom's mother retired as the chairwoman of the zoning and planning commission in Westport.