Without a doubt, one of my favourite living authors. Blessed with brains, beauty and a relentlessly fierce talent. Elizabeth Wurtzel.
Born Elizabeth Lee Wurtzel on 31 July 1967 in New York City. Her early years were far from idyllic, her parents divorced, aged 12 Wurtzel’s began her life long battle with depression. Even though she suffered with her mental health, her talent for writing shone through. When she attended Harvard College, she began writing for the Harvard Crimson and later the Dallas Morning News. As detailed in her debut novel, Wurtzel battled with her writing career and her struggle with mental health.Aged only 26, her memoirs ‘Prozac Nation’ was released in 1994. Sending Wurtzel into the sphere of a literary stardom.
Where feminist tomes are concerned, striking the right balance between philosophy and preaching is harder than is appears. I have read several noted novels on the subject, some have hit mark (Vindication of the Rights of Women) and some have just been a snooze fest (The Female Eunuch). Wurtzel’s effort has been one of my favourites yet. ‘Bitch: In Defence of Difficult Women’ was released in 1998; as the title suggests, she argues the corner for those ‘unpalatable’ famous women.
2001 saw the release of Wurtzel’s 2nd memoir ‘Now, More, Again’, while ‘Prozac Nation’ was more focused on Wurtzel’s battle with depression, ‘Now’ detailed her drug addiction with Cocaine. In addition to the release of her third novel, ‘Prozac Nation’ was adapted into a film; starring Christina Ricci in 2001.
When not penning full length books, Wurtzel has written articles for the likes of Rolling Stone (even awarded their college journalism award in in 1986), The New Yorker, New York. Magazine, Elle and regularly writes for The Wall Street Journal. Far from finished with academia, Wurtzel Attended Yale Law School in 2004. After passing the New York bar in 2010, working for Boise, Schiller and Flexman for a short while. 2015 has been a turbulent year so far for Wurtzel. Firstly she was diagnosed with Breast cancer in February, later marrying James Freed Jr in May.
Wurtzel is a polarising character, some say that her work is histrionic, self indulgent and brattish. While I can see why some may see Wurtzel as a drama queen. When one is being frank, especially when it involves mental illness. It is easy to judge someone’s poor judgement or be shocked, by what people will admit to. Mental illness is a difficult concept for those who have been untouched by its presence. So when the irrationality is presented so unapologetically, it can be hard for some people to understand. Personally, I have never perceived Wurtzel to be anything other than a flawed woman who is just open with her experiences. Still does a protagonist have to be likeable in order to connect with a audience? If coming across as ‘likeable’ is the only quality that matters in a memoir than you either omit details that show you in a poor light. Then what is the point? Whether you agree to Wurtzel’s opinions is irrelevant; much as I admire her talent and her intellect. I do not share all of her points of view, (such as her views on Israel/Palestine conflict) but how many well adjusted adults totally and completely agree with what their inspirations with? What matters most is if a writer can reach you in a profound way, can they articulate something that you have known to be true but could never find the words? Enlighten you, lift you, inspire you or just entertain you? If yes is your answer, then the author has done their job. Wurtzel in my books has more than reached the aim.