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Review: Growing up fast and rich in The Sex Doctors in the Basement
by Michelle Simon
VILLARD; 192 PAGES; $21.95

Many struggling novelists probably wish their mom was a world famous author. After all, in the book biz, a recognizable name is another way of saying currency. Molly Jong-Fast gives us a taste of growing up with literary queen Erica Jong in her sophomore effort, The Sex Doctors in the Basement.

Molly was only 23 when writing her second work but had already lived a bookish equivalent to the life of a rock star. She’s the offspring of Fear of Flying author Erica Jong and science fiction novelist Jonathan Fast, which is about as close to literary royalty as you’ll find. Molly’s fantastic debut novel Normal Girl proved she could give readers more than her name on a platter.

In The Sex Doctors in the Basement, Molly chronicles her chubby girl lifestyle of equestrian riding lessons and being a teenage cokehead. She gives hilarious descriptions of her oddball, artistic family, as well as the revolving door of her mother’s lovers and husbands.

As a parade of men pass through her life, Molly discovers that she and one of her mother’s boyfriends have striking similarities: "I was a spoiled brat. Luckily, so was my mother’s boyfriend. Both of us were cute, though only one of us looked like Annie." We love it when she’s snarky.

One of the highlights of this narrative non-fiction is when Molly meets Joan Collins in London. "My life began when I met Joan Collins. Before that the world was a dark, barren place filled only with Moon Pies, circus peanuts, marsh-mellow Peeps and grade school." Later Molly reveals a shocking secret about Joan Collins that you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The Sex Doctors in the Basement is a humorous, honest and critical snapshot of Molly’s life growing up. As you’d expect from the author who dished us a uproarious personal apocalypse in Normal Girl, she’s upfront about being an insecure, chubby brat who was prone to overeating and throwing tantrums.

A key difference between Sex Doctors and Normal Girl is her latest work is not a novel. This transfer of disciplines somewhat dulls the pencil with which Molly so adeptly catalogued her adolescence in Normal Girl. Sex Doctors is an amusing, fast read but it’s a step back from Molly’s inspiring debut, which had suggested the fast start of a literary mega-talent.

Scale: 5 stars: Incredible!…4 stars: Excellent…3 stars: Good…2 stars: Mediocre…1 star: Lame!
Rating: 3 stars

Michelle Simon, a graduate of Holy Names University, can still fit into her Catholic high school uniform. That's hot!


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