PROZAC NATION

YOUNG AND DEPRESSED IN AMERICA

A memoir of a depressed, heavily medicated young woman who identifies with Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and other tragic figures—and fantasizes about being profiled as a tragic suicide in New York magazine. Born in 1967, Wurtzel grew up in New York City, the precocious only child of divorced parents. At six, she wrote her first book. At the age of 11, she carved up her legs with razor blades in the school bathroom and went to a therapist her parents couldn't afford. But stints at the psychiatrist and summer camp didn't cure Wurtzel of her depression. When she entered Harvard, she spent her days deep in despair or high on Ecstacy or cocaine. By the time she graduated, she was being treated with Prozac and lithium. This is all presented with such narcissistic pride that the following comment about herself is true of the book: ``I was so far gone that I didn't even come across as sad any longer. Just obnoxious.'' She wants to contextualize her experience to give it deeper meaning as some sort of a beacon for her generation. But Wurtzel insists on one-upmanship: She's ``a real sicko,'' while the other six million Americans on Prozac are ``all these happy-pill poppers.'' She wants it both ways: to be at once the Head Loony and a representative voice. But her nihilism offers nothing new (she wails about loneliness and death's inevitability). Her only generational trademark is a preternatural media sensibility. But even her TV- informed peers cringed when she threw a party celebrating her deflowering. By alternately belittling and belaboring her depression, Wurtzel loses her credibility: Either she's a brat who won't shape up or she needs the drugs. Ultimately, you don't care which. An excruciating portrait of, even cause for, depression. This most certainly is not an examination of a generation's collective psyche. (First serial to Vogue, Esquire, and Mouth2Mouth)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1994

ISBN: 0-395-68093-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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