More, Now, Again
More, Now, Again is a memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Wurtzel is the author of the cultural phenomenon, Prozac Nation. Lubbock gave me this book to read. I’ve not read any of Ms. Wurtzel’s other books. Wurtzel is the Harvard graduate who was fired from The Dallas Morning News for plagiarism but then went on to bigger and better things with a gig as the pop music critic for The New Yorker. Prozac Nation is Wurtzel’s memoir of her bout with clinical depression. More, Now, Again is her memoir of her descent into and recovery from addiction. In between, she wrote the book, Bitch, a non-fiction book about “difficult women.”
I wanted to like this book, really, I did. And perhaps some of the reasons why I don’t exactly like this book have more to do with me than with Wurtzel. Usually when we take an immediate dislike to someone, there’s something in them that we recognize in ourselves and recoil from. Perhaps that’s it. I can’t explain it.
She can write well. But there’s something about her writing style that seemingly screams for affection. She is so wordy that she makes me look like Ernest Hemingway by contrast. Her paragraphs go on for miles. She’s repetitive. She uses more pop culture references than Kevin Williamson. She’s like a puppy panting for attention. This book is like the Verizon commercial of literature. “That word has five syllables. Do you love me now?”
The biggest thing I got from this book is just how selfish and self-centered Elizabeth Wurtzel is. This is a woman in her 30s who still calls her mother Mommy. She also hastens to add that she practically raised herself. No one can argue that it must have been difficult when her parents divorced and her father virtually abandoned her, but I bet Mommy might just dispute Wurtzel’s raising of herself.
Wurtzel’s drugs of choice were Ritalin (prescribed by her psychiatrist to help her focus on her work – the writing of Bitch) and cocaine. She also dabbles some with heroin. She doesn’t drink, and she admits that she never touched illegal substances until she was well past the age of rebellion: 27. She almost makes you wonder if she decided to crush and snort Ritalin just so she could write an outline for another book advance. She readily admits in her acknowledgements that she discussed the possibility of a book with her editor before she set out for rehab.
During her addiction she tweezed the hair from her legs obsessively, digging for bone and creating multiple puss filled abcesses on her legs which had to be treated in multiple Florida emergency rooms. You see, while writing her book Elizabeth had to remove herself from her fabulous Manhattan loft apartment and transport herself to Ft. Lauderdale in order to “focus.” Normal people might just grab their computers and head for the neighborhood coffee shop, but that’s not good enough for Elizabeth. She leaves her cat behind for a year with housesitters. I guess it’s impossible to tweeze your leg hairs and care for a cat at the same time. Who am I to argue with Harvard genius?
We’re supposed to feel sorry for Elizabeth as she recounts her tale of becoming the other woman to a Hollywood movie producer whose mention in the book is probably a pseudonym. She calls him Ben. We’re supposed to see that this is just how low drugs will make you go: adultery. We’re supposed to pity her degradation and her embarrassing admission of sexual obsession and porn addiction. Really, I just feel sorry for this ass’s wife. Though she uses what is presumably a pseudonym, I don’t think it would be difficult to figure out just who this guy is. She lists the location of his office and writes that he optioned one of her books.
After she has a little sobriety under her belt, she goes back into the real world for a book tour. She has met a drunk named Hank that she doesn’t actually consider attractive, but he grows on her. She describes him as her “best friend.” They’ve known each other for less than four months. The minute Hank drives her home, she does cocaine while Hank smokes cigarettes and watches. Eventually, Hank starts drinking again.
Wurtzel describes the deterioration of her “relationship” with Hank. Almost the minute they get out of rehab he heads for the hills, he gets himself another girlfriend but tells her that “nothing’s changed.” Of course nothing’s changed; they were never in a relationship in the first place. This is some guy she hooked up with in rehab. He’s made her no promises, no vows, no commitments. After she gets some sobriety under her belt again, she picks him up from a bar across the street from her apartment and has unprotected sex with him because she says that she was afraid that he’d leave her in the time that it took for her to put in her diaphragm. Wow! Talk about daddy issues.
The pies de resistance of Wurtzel’s selfishness has to be the scene where she’s pregnant with Hank’s soon to be aborted baby while one of Ben’s coworkers tells her that Ben’s wife is expecting a child. Wurtzel thinks the woman mentioned this to hurt her and judge her, and she says that she’ll never again judge someone without truly knowing their circumstances. She then aborts Hank’s baby without ever bothering to tell him about the pregnancy. She says that this is because she just can’t bear the hurt it would cause if Hank refuses to go hold her hand. I wonder why a woman who is now sober, a highly educated white woman, a self described “good Jewish girl” with plenty of disposable income would abort a baby. But perhaps the baby is better off since Wurtzel was a lousy mother to even her cat.
I want to feel some sympathy or empathy for Elizabeth Wurtzel. It’s just that her constant preoccupation with herself prevents me from doing so. After she achieves sobriety, she still seems just as selfish as ever. Maybe she’s different in real life from how she comes across in her book. Memoirs are by their very nature self obsessive. But the Wurtzel character in Wurtzel’s own version of her life comes across as a very unlikable person, despite her best efforts otherwise. Do you love me now?
Entry filed under: Alcoholism/Substance Abuse, Books, Depression, Ethics, Relationships. Tags: Books, Dallas Morning News, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Ernest Hemingway, More Now Again, New Yorker, Prozac Nation.