Summary:

Paragraph 12 reads:  ""After telling her interviewer that the collapse of the towers was 'a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance . . .'just beautiful,'  Wurtzel confessed her befuddlement with worldwide reaction to the attacks. You know, the caring and the heartache and stuff."

First paragraph reads:  "'My main thought was: What a pain in the ass.'  -- Author of Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel, describing how she felt when her mother called and woke her to tell her a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center."

Paragraphs 10 & 11 read:  "Wurtzel's apartment in lower Manhattan offered a view of the World Trade Center, and she might have seen the second plane hitting the WTC, had she found the energy or humanity to get out of bed. Repeated calls from friends finally prompted Wurtzel to get up and look out the window, in time to see the second tower collapse.

"I had not the slightest emotional reaction," the Globe and Mail quotes her as saying. "I thought: 'This is a really strange art project.' "

Paragraph 13 reads:  "'I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me.'"




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Talented author needs a little lesson in humanity

Chicago Sun-Times - February 27, 2002
Author: Richard Roeper

'My main thought was: What a pain in the ass." -- Author Elizabeth Wurtzel, describing how she felt when her mother called and woke her to tell her a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

Until 9/11/01, Elizabeth Wurtzel was the perfect idiot for her time--a gifted and deeply troubled writer whose only subject of interest was herself. Her addictions, her neuroses, her mother, her tattoos, her body, her sex life, her love for movies and books and Chinese takeout food and porn videos and Coach accessories and Earl Grey tea and Jill Platner bracelets and therapy and sleep.

Wurtzel's Prozac Nation became The Bell Jar of its time, and Wurtzel (who attempted suicide in college) became the Sylvia Plath of her time, with the main difference being Wurtzel hasn't yet been driven to sticking her head in an oven--though, if she ever does end it all, I'm sure she'll figure out a way to write about it from the great beyond. ("Machiavelli is such a macho jerk, but I still think he's hot. I wonder if he can score some crystal meth for me . . .")

The doe-eyed indie darling Christina Ricci portrays the doe-eyed literary darling Wurtzel in the movie version of Prozac Nation. The movie hasn't hit theaters yet, but I saw it in September at the Toronto Film Festival, before the terrorist attacks. The opening scene shows Ricci/Wurtzel in a near-catatonic and topless state, paralyzed by the notion of going off to college, where her fragile genius will not be appreciated by the frosh dopes. It is the quintessential Elizabeth Wurtzel moment: I'm so depressed and rail-thin because I'm addicted to drugs and pain and self-loathing--but, hey, can you believe how full and ripe my bosom is? The boys are gonna love me!

I'm slogging my way through Wurtzel's latest book, More, Now, Again, which chronicles her addiction to Ritalin, if you can believe that. In her typically self-congratulatory way--this woman truly believes she is always the smartest person in the room, no matter what room she's in--Wurtzel brags about having figured out that if you chop up Ritalin and snort it, you get a buzz not as good as cocaine but just as addictive and life-consuming. Then, she goes back to cocaine, quoting Stevie Nicks and Courtney Love along the way and telling us about the occasional friend who shoots up and dies.

As she works on her book Bitch, Wurtzel is writing THIS book about writing that book. Surrounded by enablers and fellow addicts, Wurtzel turns her addiction into performance art, to the point where the publicity chief and the art director at her publishing house decide to photograph her messy, garbage-strewn office "and use it in the press packet."

My self-imposed rule about movies, books and dinner is to always try to finish, no matter how painful the journey might be. But More, Now, Again has me crying Less, Later, Please.

What keeps me reading is the vitality of the writing. Wurtzel remains one of the finest prose stylists of her peer group--which makes it all the more frustrating to follow her from page to page as she chases her tail around and around and around, wallowing in her misery, embracing her addictions and marveling at her own inability to function in the world.

But I'm contemplating opening a window and hurling the unfinished More, Now, Again into the Wacker Drive construction pit, where it can be sealed like a time capsule depicting the ultimate in 21st century narcissism, because I think that's what Wurtzel wants--to drive us all away. That's about the only plausible explanation, beyond the fact that's she's nuttier than a Snickers bar, for Wurtzel's recent comments to an interviewer from the Toronto Globe and Mail, in which she confided that the Sept. 11 attacks, like, bugged her.

Wurtzel's apartment in lower Manhattan offered a view of the World Trade Center, and she might have seen the second plane hitting the WTC, had she found the energy or humanity to get out of bed. Repeated calls from friends finally prompted Wurtzel to get up and look out the window, in time to see the second tower collapse.

"I had not the slightest emotional reaction," the Globe and Mail quotes her as saying. "I thought: 'This is a really strange art project.' "

After telling her interviewer that the collapse of the towers was "a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance . . . just beautiful," Wurtzel confessed her befuddlement with worldwide reaction to the attacks. You know, the caring and the heartache and stuff.

"I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me."

Compared to Wurtzel's jaw-dropping observations, Aaron Sorkin's jabs at the media's fawning coverage of President Bush in the New Yorker are practically jingoistic. But he, too, is under fire for being an unpatriotic S.O.B.

Both of these drug-troubled artists are fortunate to live in a place that allows them to say the stupidest and most unpopular things and still go to bed at night without fear of the door being broken down. They can say anything they want--but they're lucky to be Americans. In fact, that's why they're lucky to be Americans.
Section: NEWS
Page: 11
Index Terms: NEWS; BOOKS; author writing talent criticism
Record Number: 0F360C38DA0E2362
Copyright 2002 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
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Talented author needs a little lesson in humanity