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Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women Paperback – May 18, 1999
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Elizabeth Wurtzel, an ex-rock critic for The New Yorker, won controversial fame with her bestselling 1994 memoir Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, which described how Prozac saved the precocious Harvard grad from suicide. Her second book, Bitch is a celebration of the defiant, rock & roll spirit of self-destructive women through the ages: Delilah, Amy Fisher, Princess Di, and hundreds more (including the awesomely reckless Wurtzel). There is no comprehensible central line of argument, perhaps because the author did her exhaustive research and writing on a speedy Kerouacesque drug binge that, by her own admission, sent her to rehab upon the book's conclusion. But Wurtzel has the remains of a fine mind: her insights are often sharp, sometimes bitchy, and always shameless as she zooms in a very few pages from The Oresteia to O.J. to her first crush on a fictional character (Heathcliff) to Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, Richard Pryor, Chrissie Hynde, Leaving Las Vegas, Gone with the Wind, Sylvia Plath's "Daddy," Schindler's List, Oliver!, Carousel, and Andrea Dworkin. Most pop culture pundits incline to grandiose blather, but Wurtzel is punchy, and her quotes are more often apt than pretentious. Bitch is like a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in a library, with frequent rampages through the film and music archives. Like rock music, Wurtzel's prose style lives for the moment. She glories in breaking rules to bits, is never giddier than when she's saying something shocking, and apparently has no moral code except self-expression--with the attitude volume knob cranked up to 11. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
There is little praise for women in Wurtzel's hyperbolic rant about "bad girls" and their relationship to Western society. Indeed, hip turns of phrase frequently replace logic in this often smug and overwritten screed. In her defense, Wurtzel (Prozac Nation, LJ 8/94) has taken on a huge project, and every now and again she introduces a startling insight about how women manipulate situations to control their lives. Her look at the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah is particularly instructive in elucidating the history of our reaction to the alluringly repulsive femme fatale. Likewise, her presentation of both mythic and real women who flaunt their "pussy power" makes for provocative reading. Nonetheless, nearly a quarter of the book focuses on Nicole Brown Simpson (who few would call a "difficult woman") and is shockingly mean-spirited. While she lambastes the Simpson jury as "just plain stupid," we never learn how she knows what the jury did not: that O.J. killed Nicole. Since she was not in the courtroom, her cavalier dismissal of the verdict rankles and casts doubt on her other arguments. Worse, she seems to believe that violence is endemic to being "crazy in love," and her writing romanticizes the black eye and slapped cheek as proof of passionate involvement. In addition, Wurtzel completely ignores lesbians?an odd omission since the expression of Sapphic love represents a blatant rejection of "good girl" norms?and dismisses the happily single, writing that "it would be easier to eliminate racism or end poverty or cure illiteracy or dethrone Fidel Castro than it would to make girls stop wanting to be brides." Recommended only as catalyst for debate.
-?Eleanor J. Bader, New School for Social Research, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Read MORE, NOW, AGAIN...now theres a book.
Staccato is operative, on speed even, as several other reviewers have suggested that the author was. On virtually each page, there are multiple proper names and the italics denoting the name of books, movies, or songs. For me, much was familiar, but there were also numerous references that flew over my head... just not "plugged in" enough, I guess. Quite a few reviewers didn't care for her attitude, which, I suspect, was more than a little tongue in cheek. I think that was a tongue, at least. But I found her "reference frame" stimulating, and feel she had a much better book in her if she had a better handle on that nervous twitch.
At a more mellow pace, consider her observation: "The evil of The Bridges of Madison County, a hideous book for so many reasons, was in its implication that a three-day love affair is the real thing and a marriage that lasted for years and years and produced good, happy children is a sham. The leading man, the traveling stranger with a camera, never even has another girlfriend thereafter until he dies: the daily importance of life and love is thrown away for some fake notion of the `one big love.' The banality of the ideas presented in the book, passed off as romantic, is more frightening than all the sex and violence in all other aspects of American popular culture that make everyone so hysterical." Or just this observation on that time continuum, as seen from a male and female perspective: "Meanwhile, men coast along in present perfect...For a man time just kind of slip slides away, and there's always more of it. A woman has no idea what it is to live in the present tense, and a man has no idea what it is like to panic with a pounding, pumping clock embedded in your chest where your heart should be." Or, her own self-portrait: "...I always thought I'd be good to come home to, a person to put things in perspective, to point out the stupidity of the pi**ing contests most men seem to find so engaging."
And did this really happened, I suspect so, but I was stunned: "Stories of Edmund Wilson smacking Mary McCarthy in a drunken rage, and telling her, as she burst into tears, to stop it or he would give her something to really cry about..." which segues, with barely a period, into talk about a relationship rather than actually having one.
The subtitle is appropriate. The book mirrors the women she praises: difficult, not in its profundity, but in its jumpiness. 3-stars.
"In fact, offhand, I can think of only two instances of movies that portrayed situations of domestic violence as absolutely miserable and painful, without any kind of redemption...."
"Still, no one wants to be date-raped and no one wants to be physically abused, But it is such a thin, fine line."
And apparently, Andrea Dworkin just just in denial. I think I'll be the B***h and call you out for what a low-life you are, Elizabeth Wurtzel. Women like you are part of the problem.
(0.75 stars is given because I think she is intelligent and seems like someone who knows what is doing or talking about or else it is a 2 and I am not going to round it up to 2 stars)
I sometimes wondered why the hell I was reading this book! But I forced myself. I have to say this book is not a complete letdown as they are bits and nuggests of wisdom strewn inside the book.
As I was reading, I did judge her work and thought to myself that this work seems rather self absorbed. When I thumbed through the book in the used book store, I felt it might be waste but hey I had to tell myself to just buy and try reading it and somehow she might in the league of Erica Jong.
Boy I was so wrong and I regretted the purchase. Erica Jong and Elizabeth Wurtzel are galaxies and light years apart.
To me, she seems like the reflection of women in our society who completely idolize celebrities and shallow aspects of the society and I can applaud her for taking shallow nonsense and backing it up with sheer idiocy, making it look intellectual.
Basically it seemed like a rant, diatribe. or whining. It didnt seem like essays to make her point.
God how can they say this was a best seller ? The author had admitted writing this book while being high on coke or speed or whatever. I thought artists such as the author performed better with drugs. I cannot imagine her work when she is sober.
I feel that if you have an opinion, please back it up. The backing up was poorly done.
She bscially thinks, sleeping around, treating others horribly and with no respect, and having no respect for yourself or others makes you so popular and tragic at the same time with men or public.
Well, everybody is entitled to an opinion and if she feels it works for her, yay for her. But using this basis to justify and explain everything in female world seems like she needs psychiatric help.
But I feel in her books, there seemed to be no variation of characters from various backgrounds as well. It seems being attractive, sexual and white and a junkie is all there is to life. She seems to give more points to women who are better looking too. There is more to life than looks and competing with other women.
She is narcissistic. Everything comes back to being about her. This book should have been a memoir and yet this was marketed to be a book about essays and feminism. I felt cheated as I read the book.
How is treating other people badly empowering ? Read this book and Elizabeth Wurtzel will tell you how.
Also this book doesnt follow any train of thought and there is no coherent flow of thought but just how cool it is to be her kind of bad girl.
I will also stop my rant on now bad this book this! I really dont want to even cite quotes and passages.