Elizabeth Wurtzel's third full-length book, released to overwhelmingly negative reviews in early 2002. It is subtitled "A Memoir of Addiction". This is basically a sequel to her book Prozac Nation; there are noticeable similarities in the themes of depression and addiction, and in the melodramatic, confessional writing style.

Wurtzel, at the book's outset, is prescribed Ritalin for her depression. She quickly becomes addicted, crushing up to 40 pills a day and snorting them, and using other amphetamines and cocaine when her Ritalin supply runs out. In this manner she completes her book Bitch; does her best to alienate her friends, family, agent, and publisher; practices self-mutilation; becomes strangely obsessed with Timothy McVeigh; and finally returns to New York City and crashes. She goes to a country-club rehab in Connecticut; becomes involved with a recovering alcoholic who may be the only person on the face of this earth who is more insane than her; begins using again; gets pregnant, has an abortion, and checks into Smithers where she attains a not-entirely-believable redemption.

It is a difficult read. It leaves conflicting impressions that may take months or years to sort through. For those who can't stand her (and there are many), I guess there isn't much conflict.

I asked a professor of English at the local community college for her take on Elizabeth Wurtzel, and she said she found Wurtzel's writing to be self-indulgent whining. This was echoed in most of the reviews of More, Now, Again, one of which went as far as to suggest that Wurtzel should be locked up for her own protection, and her publishers should stop exploiting this sick and obviously fucked-up young woman. What exactly does Liz Wurtzel even have to complain about? She has her youth and her beauty and her professional success and her financial security. The book jacket attempts to answer this question:

"No success could staunch her continuous battle with depression".

Or, as I answered my professor, "What does Liz Wurtzel have to complain about? She's stuck inside of her own head. Nothing's gonna change that."

The book is something of an ambitious mess. It's kind of like a bad Bob Dylan record--there are these flashes of incredible writing that crop up just often enough to forgive the rest of it. The book's first third is for the most part very well written. It's when she checks into rehab that things begin to deteriorate. It's hard to say why. Perhaps the Liz Wurtzel that her readers want to see is the pill-popping, drug-taking, extremely promiscuous insane girl. The Liz Wurtzel who leaves Smithers and proclaims--

"I start to think that, maybe, God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself. That transformation that I have been waiting for all my life, that moment when I would be me, really me, true to myself and feel all right--it has finally arrived. For the first time ever, when people ask me how I am, I say that I am happy."

--Well, she is not so interesting as the other one. It's the unavoidable contradiction in her writing style. She writes from a complete emotional nakedness and a brutal honesty that most people can never achieve. And, like Dylan going born-again, by the end of this book she trades hard truth for easy answers.

That said, the book has great emotional resonance for some, definitely for me. Anyone who is an addict, or has addicted friends and family, will probably find at least one passage in the book that makes perfect, ridiculously sharp and clear sense. Like Prozac Nation shone a light into the dark corners of serious depression, this book brings to light many of the inner thought processes of addiction.

Some excerpts:

"I crush up my pills and snort them like dust. They are my sugar. They are the sweetness in the days that have none. They drip through me like tupelo honey. Then they are gone. Then I need more. I always need more. For all of my life I have needed more. My pills are methylphenidate hydrochloride, brand name Ritalin, but I will take Dexedrine or any other kind of prescription amphetamine that I can get. I used to swallow them, ten milligrams at a time, every four hours, no more than three times a day, as directed by my physician. Then I took more, and more often. Then one day I cut one in half, trying to extend the supply, and some powder crumbled off of my uneven slice. I could feel my face light up: I might as well have been Columbus, discovering America while looking for India. I snorted it up, as if it were cocaine, and something different happened in my brain, a scratchy rush. Since then, I've been crushing them up like that on purpose. I inhale forty pills a day. That's how I spend my days: I smash up powder and make it go away."

"Pills are my everything. At the end of the day, other people ask themselves: Is this all there is? I don't wait for the answer. I'm not stupid. I don't wait to see if today will be better than yesterday, because I already know. And these pills are deep inside of me. What person could ever get this close? Who would want to? And I swear to you, and I don't care how this sounds, I think it's love. If you don't understand, you don't know what love is."

"I hate to think that the drugs all come down to loneliness, but that would seem to be the case. They are reliable company. I don't need, much less want, people around when I am using. That often means I have to share my stuff with them, and even more often it means that I have to conceal my use from them. I can't stand people's disapproving eyes. I hate the way they look disgusted. And they do, they always do."

"And then we fuck. Over and over again. We fuck and watch tons of pornography. That's what you do on cocaine. I cannot imagine anyone watching porn without coke, and at this point I cannot imagine doing coke without Jenna Jameson and T.T. Boy and Janine and Cheyenne and Ron Jeremy...."

Ah, you get the idea.

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