On Elizabeth Wurtzel

We interviewed Elizabeth Wurtzel in my reporting class. Here’s what I have to say about it:

She’s got a best-selling book in her repertoire, 1994’s “Prozac Nation,” also the impetus to a film adaptation starring acclaimed actress Christina Ricci, a spot in one of New York’s top law firms, but author-turned-attorney Elizabeth Wurtzel is still depressed.


“I have always and probably will always, in some way, struggle with depression,” said Wurtzel in a recent interview.


She wears her infamy about as comfortably as the massive fur coat draped about her shoulders, which she is quick to justify as PETA-friendly; “I promise it’s vintage,” said Wurtzel, an unprompted response to a room of New York University journalism students.


And it’s hard to blame her. Do a Google search for “Elizabeth Wurtzel” and a number of juicy tidbits avail themselves. First, that she’s authored three books and appeared in publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone. Next, that media gossip site Gawker has a thing to say about her controversial love life; the third result on the search page is a post titled “On Knowing Elizabeth Wurtzel Screwed David Foster Wallace.” And finally, that an unfiltered image search will produce a topless shot on the second page.


To say Wurtzel’s been in the limelight, not always on her own terms, may be something of an understatement. But what has fame brought her?


“It doesn’t solve anything,” said Wurtzel. “When you’re depressed, you’re depressed.” And despite the widespread attention both she and her seminal tome “Prozac Nation” have earned, she suggests that she doesn’t quite separate herself from jes plain folks.


“You have literary success or whatever, but you’re still taking the garbage out,” she said of life after “Prozac Nation.” But most don’t come in from the dumpster to gaze upon degrees from Harvard College and Yale Law School, a coffee table full of magazines they’ve been published in.


Still, chatting with CNN producer Phil Rosenbaum’s reporting class, even breaking for pizza with students and offering her email address to interested parties after the interview, Wurtzel was admittedly at ease, her rapport spanning topics from celebrity gossip to television dramas.


“I watch Law & Order re-runs…  I actually just watched the E! True Hollywood Story on the Kardashians… they seem like a nice family, in a weird way,” said Wurtzel.


She struggles with the bar examination, a requisite for those who want to practice law, criticizes the popularization of Brooklyn as a hip spot for married couples (“It’s Kabul, Afghanistan before it’s Cobble Hill; I can’t hear one more time that Brooklyn is the new Manhattan”), enthusiastically talks about her dog, and ponders the effect the internet has on blind dating.


You wouldn’t think so leafing through her books, trolling internet blogs, or maybe even at first glance, but Elizabeth Wurtzel is almost painstakingly normal; melancholic, occasionally depressive, prone to romantic foibles, self-involved and concerned about little more than the nebulous “world around her.”


She’s a best-selling author, yes, a big-time attorney, and indeed, still depressed.


Who wouldn’t be?


2 Responses to “On Elizabeth Wurtzel”

  1. Cool read. It’s weird she is 40…I have her fixed in my mind as her age in Prozac Nation.

  2. in her defense, and in defense of other depressed peeps, depression is a psychiatric disorder rooted (unfortunately) in neurotransmitters, brain synapses, genetics, and other such things that actively work to undermine the human soul. so maybe she just can’t help being sad.

    also, lolz at teh topless pics.

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