I often wind up getting into conversations about what I”m reading – I’m big on finding out what others are enjoying or what to avoid, and I like to give that information back.

What was interesting about my latest read was the reaction I got from people when I told them that I was reading Prozac Nation. It was the same every time, down to the exact phrasing.

“Oh really? How is that?”

I’m not going to say that I greatly enjoyed reading a woman’s memoir of battling severe depression. But it was a fascinating read and I’m glad I finally took it on.

Like just about any woman (I imagine) who thinks of herself as a writer of any kind and has gone through late adolescence and her early adulthood, I’ve read my fair share of the Mad Women Literary Canon. I still hold Plath to be one of my favorite female writers (and am still freaked out that our handwriting styles are freakishly similar). I’ve read Sexton. Blah blah. And what makes Elizabeth Wurtzel interesting is that she’s the contemporary. And the one who lived, which is a marked difference.

Setting aside my knowledge and thoughts of Wurtzel today (I acknowledge her contributions to writing, but think she tries way too hard to stir people up for the sake of being edgy), Prozac Nation was a brave project to undertake. Not only did she get through it, she does so in a manner that shows off her outstanding writing skill by painting herself at her absolute worst. To manage to find that balance is a tricky thing to do; to manage to do so in a way that feels real and almost understandable is even more difficult.

Writing confessional material is a potentially thankless gig – you’re basically ripping open your scars and asking people to poke around inside. You’ll either wind up with people thinking you’re doing it for glory’s sake or you’ll find people telling you that there was no point of such self-flagellation. But with Wurtzel, it works.

Reading her journey prompted me to turn to another woman’s tale of discovering herself: Eat, Pray, Love. We’ll see how that one turns out.

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