Thursday, September 14, 2006

Elizabeth Wurtzel: Prozac Nation

Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation was at one point hailed as Generation X's The Bell Jar.This is plausable because a.) it chronicles a young depressed woman's experiences and b.) said account is updated with many, many references to pop culture. It's a narrative of pain, but it's also ironic and self-aware. Although Wurtzel does a good job or conveying the emptiness and confusion of depression, any pity I felt was marred by the "I'm so awesome" list of her accomplishments. Private school, scholorship, Harvard, accolades for her writing, numerous trips... I understand that Wurtzel is demonstrating that attaining the success our culture covets doesn't equate happiness, but the shouts of "look how fabulous I am" are distracting and, ultimately, detracting.

The title really doesn't have anything to do with the subject matter. The book smacks of a vanity project more than anything else. If the author hadn't achieved so much while young, I'm guessing this book would not have been published. All in all, Prozac Nation is most effective as a lurid tell-all. It almost feels escapist, except it's not uplifting. It's an enjoyable read in a morbid, voyeuristic way. I could identify with some of what Wurtzel is saying, and I hope that she was able to find some healthy way of getting the attention she so desperately needed (needs?). It's difficult being young and gifted, especially if one of those talents is alienating everyone around you.

Incidentally, we haven't heard too much from Wurtzel lately, but Wikipedia tells me she's attending law school at Yale. Rock 'n' roll.



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