Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the "Procac Nation" memoir, known for her rough thoughts about depression and addiction, died Tuesday in a Manhattan hospital years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Wurtzel had undergone a double mastectomy, but her cancer had metastasized to her brain, her husband Jim Freed told the Washington Post. She was 52 years old.
When she was 27 years old in 1993, Wurtzel wrote her bestselling book "Prozac Nation", a time when mental illness, especially clinical depression, was still too taboo to speak openly about.
Wurtzel's spelling, relatively unknown at the time, deeply personal and explicit, sparked a larger discussion about her generation's struggles with depression and mental health.
The memoirs were both criticized and praised. In 2001 it was adapted into a film with actress Christina Ricci.
"Prozac Nation is alternately hilarious, complacent, and confident, with the raw openness of Joan Didion's essays, the irritating emotional exhibitionism of Sylvia Plath's" Bell Jar ", and the ironic, dark humor of a Bob Dylan song," TThe New York Times wrote Michiko Kakutani in her review of the book.
While the book may have benefited from "rigorous editing," Kakutani said that Wurtzel's "willingness to unmask itself – narcissism and everything – ultimately won over the reader."
Wurtzel continued her career as an author without excuse. In 1998 she published a collection of essays titled "Bitch" with a topless photo of herself and a raised middle finger on the cover. In 2002 she published her second treatise, "More, Now Again", which delves deeper into her tendency to sniff Ritalin Coping mechanism for depression and life in New York City,
writer Wurtzel's friend David Samuels told the New York Times that her writing had changed the world of literature.
“Lizzie's literary genius is based not only on her acres of quotable one-liners, but also on her invention of a really new form that has more or less replaced literary fiction – the memory of a young person that no one has heard of. Samuels told the paper in an email, "It was a form that Lizzie designed based on her own image because she always had to be both the character and the author."
In a tribute to Twitter, journalist Ronan Farrow described Wurtzel as "friendly and generous".
She "filled rooms that would otherwise have been lonely with their warmth, humor and idiosyncratic voice," he wrote.
Wurtzel eventually discovered that she had the BRCA genetic mutation, which significantly increases a person's lifelong breast cancer risk. She called for more people to be tested for the mutation, and wrote in 2015 for the New York Times that she "could avoid all of this if I had been tested."
Wurtzel in 2018 urged people not to feel sorry for her and said that she was not afraid and "excited to be alive".
"Everyone else can hate cancer," she wrote. "I can't. Everyone else can be afraid of cancer. I am not. It is part of me. It is my companion. I live with it. It is within me. I have a deep familiarity with cancer."
She later said, "Do you know what I'm afraid of? Nothing."
"Cancer just suits me."
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