82 of 92 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Prozac Nation (Paperback)
Wurtzel's stated intent is to give the reader an idea of what it is like to be with someone who is depressed, and this is her justification for endless tales of her symptoms: yes, then I was in the hospital AGAIN, etc. Some readers find this grating, as though Wurtzel has made her point once, and please, could she move on to something else.
Personally, I found it interesting and revealing. No matter where she went, or what she was doing, or how much her friends cared about her, she still had those same old symptoms. That's clinical depression as opposed to someone who is in a difficult situation and therefore feeling lousy.
She needs to make this abundantly clear, because the final point, and the justification for her book's title, depends on the reader understanding the depth and breadth of her depression, and the etiology of it-- or lack of a clear cause, if that is a better way to put it. Wurtzel is not unhappy because her parents are divorcing, or because she was forced to go summer after summer to camps she hated, or because she disliked her afterschool program, or because high school was difficult for her academically (it wasn't). She's just depressed because there's something about Elizabeth Wurtzel that is bound to be depressed.
This leads into her late stated thesis: Prozac, and drugs like it are the Philosopher's Stone for people with this kind of ontological depression. But everyone seems to be taking something for the mildest and most transient of melancholias. Prozac has almost become a by-word for something doctors throw at hypochondriacs to make them go away.
So the same drug that saved Wurtzel's life was becoming something that cheapened her real disease, and caused people to whisper "she really could just shake it off, but she's taking the easy way out."
Before Wurtzel brings Prozac into the story, she desperately wants to show the reader that if it were merely a question of shaking it off, there would be no book.
Personally, I found her narrative voice pleasantly engaging, but I will admit that it is distinctively marked by her generation, to which I also belong. Her words rang in my head like conversation with a good friend. Someone much older or younger might have difficulty engaging with the narrative.
This question of the narrative voice may date the book eventually, but then so will the whole subject of Prozac and its over or under prescription, so I don't think it is a criticism to observe that Wurtzel chose to use such a marked writing style.
Whether one has been through depression or not, this book is fascinating. It's a trip through a generation growing up, through Jewish camps and Hebrew school for those who remember them, and depression for those who want comfort in company, or those who want to know more. I would recommend it to anyone.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 17, 2010 4:11:30 AM PDT
Shmuel Agnon says:
I want to say that I very much enjoyed reading your review, and thought that it served the book justice by being educated about the subject. Thank you.
Posted on Oct 24, 2012 2:44:55 PM PDT
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