Elizabeth Wurtzel, ‘Prozac Nation’ author who spurred a memoir increase, dies at fifty two – The Washington Write-up


Elizabeth Wurtzel, who chronicled her battle with melancholy and drug habit in very best-advertising memoirs that served spur a boom in confessional producing, turning her into a Gen X celeb at 26 with the publication of “Prozac Country,” died Jan. seven at a hospital in Manhattan. She was 52.

Ms. Wurtzel declared in 2015 that she had breast most cancers, a challenge that she dismissed as “nothing” in contrast to giving up medicine. She underwent a double mastectomy, but the breast most cancers had metastasized to her mind, stated her spouse, Jim Freed. The instant cause of loss of life was problems from leptomeningeal illness, which takes place when cancer spreads to the cerebrospinal fluid.

Producing with intense candor, Ms. Wurtzel was one particular of quite a few authors who assisted reinvigorate the personalized memoir in the nineteen nineties. The kind experienced prolonged been dominated by politicians, artists or entertainers — celebs and other bold-faced names. But Ms. Wurtzel was largely unknown outside circles who had read her rock criticism in publications such as the New Yorker and New York journal.

Her literary debut, “Prozac Nation: Younger and Frustrated in America” (1994), took its title from an antidepressant that she was 1 of the initial to be approved, and drew immediate comparisons to William Styron’s book “Darkness Visible” (1990), which aided draw growing awareness to melancholy, and Susanna Kaysen’s “Girl, Interrupted” (1993), which recalled the author’s psychological well being struggles as a young girl in the nineteen sixties.

Ms. Wurtzel was a long time more youthful than Stryon and Kaysen and much additional explicit in her descriptions of razor blades that sliced up her legs at age 11, intercourse functions that remaining her with chapped lips, and a “black wave” of depression that led to a suicide attempt. In advance of turning 35 she released her next memoir, “More, Now, Again” (2002), which documented drug abuse that landed her in and out of rehab and derailed the crafting of her 2nd guide, the essay assortment “Bitch” (1998).

Ms. Wurtzel’s uninhibited style and public persona — the initially edition of “Bitch” featured a include photo in which she appeared nude, sneering at the digital camera and increasing a center finger — served make her a generational touchstone, and divided critics, some of whom accused her of narcissism and self-obsession.

“By turns wrenching and comical, self-indulgent and self-informed, ‘Prozac Nation’ possesses the uncooked candor of Joan Didion’s essays, the irritating emotional exhibitionism of Sylvia Plath’s ‘Bell Jar’ and the wry, dark humor of a Bob Dylan tune,” wrote New York Occasions e book critic Michiko Kakutani. If the memoir wanted “some rigid modifying,” she included, it was nonetheless marked by passages of “sparkling, luminescent prose.”

A complete obituary will be released before long.

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