Friday, 19 June 2009

Beauty Fades, Loneliness is Forever

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, recently wrote an article for Elle Magazine describing her fears of aging and losing her good looks. (It can be found here.)

I know Wurtzel isn't to everyone's taste. A lot of people hold the opinion that she writes very highly of herself, is driven by a world in which she's the centre star, and never really branches out from this theme. Actually that's why I like her. Prozac Nation is one of my favourite books: I can't tell you how much comfort I gained from reading about someone who spoke the words that struggled to be released from my own mind.

The fact of the matter is that Wurtzel has suffered from severe depression for most of her life. Those who have never come across an individual suffering from it or have never experienced it themselves don't seem to realise that when you're caught by the hands of depression, you really only think of yourself. You can't help it. You're consumed by what's happening to you. It's not something you can shrug off easily. I refer to mine as the 'demon' as it feels like possession which can affect you when you least expect it. You can go for months at a time feeling fabulous and on top of the world, and then the demon throws her web over your mind, and you're trapped.

Wurtzel's habit of writing can be directly linked to this. She's lived a life where the most important person was herself so it's no wonder she's quite the egocentric now. She's part of a long line of writers responsible for 'confessional prose,' (a style Sylvia Plath was one of the first to use). Unfortunately it's rare we find any British writers who do the same - the trend is that the American artists aren't afraid to expose the pain underneath.

It's very taboo for us Brits to whine about our problems. Have you ever seen an English actor/actress whine to the British public about their fame and gain sympathy? We lynch them. It's the British way to hide our feelings. I think it's a pride thing.

I like the confessions, though. (And we're not talking 'Mis Lit' here.) In the article for Elle, Beauty Fades, Loneliness is Forever, Wurtzel openly acknowledges that she's been a stone fox from a very young age and is frightened that these looks are soon to fade. She's aged, and she's single, and now that she's mature enough to want to settle down, she still can't seem to find the 'right one.' I admire her confidence.

Considering what she's been through in the past twenty years (on top of depression, she's had her fair share of addictions), it's refreshing that she feels as good about herself as she does. Her concerns are now like everyone else's - getting old and ending up alone. Like I said, she's not to everyone's taste, but I have a crush on her and enjoyed Prozac Nation, so I'll read anything she's written.

Speaking of which, I came across this short story, Alex, about a year ago which I encourage everyone to have a go at reading. It's not the usual 'depression or addiction' talk; it's a story about a journalist assigned to write a piece about a musician. Wonderfully written and quite sexy. I'll assume it's semi-autobiographical as Wurtzel wrote a few articles for Rolling Stone magazine. (And as any writer knows, it's difficult at times to keep things strictly fictional.)