Brad's Reviews > Prozac Nation

Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
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it was amazing
bookshelves: memoir, non-fiction
Read 2 times. Last read April 9, 2019.

Elizabeth Wurtzel loomed over my writing life—as she did for many GenXers—from the time she burst on the literary scene in 1994 until her untimely death this year.

In 1994, I was a twenty-one years old aspiring writer the first time I read Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation. I was just graduating college, about to embark on my own career, when I found this raw, loud, unapologetic voice that screamed off the pages. I was transfixed by her writing then, and I continued my love affair with her work as both grew into middle age.

Last year—after a chance encounter with her on Instagram—I decided to go back and re-read (and in some cases, read for the first time) her books. I finished Prozac Nation just a few months before breast cancer would hill her.

Here’s what I wrote about her, and her book, the day I found out about her death:

Prozac Nation was a sprawling, messy narrative about depression, and drugging children, and loneliness, and fear. But it wasn’t only that. Wutzel’s story was never about victimhood. Her story was about the agency and beauty that came come from brokenness, about the importance of living with reckless vulnerability, and ultimately about her decision to carve out an authentic, honest life where she owned the spaces she lived.

She damn near created the modern, literary, female-driven, confessional memoir—although I’m positive my writing career wouldn’t have gone the way it had if I hadn’t read her work, either.


I've spent a good deal of time thinking about Wurtzel—and her legacy—in the last month. We've settled into the Influencer Age of the Internet, which has given voice to so many people that it's hard to pierce through the din. But Wurtzel was, before all this mess, the ultimate GenX literary influencer. Smart and fiery, she battled with people in her writing. She named names. She brought receipts. And she didn't much care if you liked her.

All that is to say that I still find Prozac Nation relevant because she gave a voice the kind of real anxiety and depression that have settled within so many of us. She—and this book—helped make normal the things that we didn't talk about. And because of who she was—and her voice—she gave us cover to talk about those things ourselves.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 13, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
April 9, 2019 – Finished Reading
February 7, 2020 – Shelved as: memoir
February 7, 2020 – Shelved as: non-fiction

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