Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010 “for his cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.” Peru's foremost writer, he was awarded the Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's most distinguished literary honor, and the Jerusalem Prize. His many works include The Feast of the Goat, The Bad Girl, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, The War of the End of the World, and The Storyteller. He lives in London. This essay, making its U.S. debut, is excerpted from Touchstones: Essays on Literature, Art and Politics. There are certain naïve people who believe that a fear of flying is, or can be explained by, a fear of death. They are wrong: fear of flying is fear of flying, not of death, a fear as particular and specific as a fear of spiders, or of the void, or of cats, three common examples among the thousands that make up the panoply of human fears. Fear of flying wells up suddenly, when people not lacking in imagination and sensitivity realise that they are thirty thousand feet in the air, travelling through clouds at eight hundred miles an hour, and ask, 'What the hell am I doing here?' And begin to tremble.