My daughter had a dream about our good friend Elizabeth Wurtzel the opposite evening. Goals about somebody who has died should not unusual, as we all know. Some say it’s a manner of figuring out unresolved points with the particular person; or possibly it’s simply that you just miss them a lot, your unconscious is making an attempt to convey them again. Others say it’s one thing extra alongside the traces of a visitation, precise contact on a non secular aircraft. Guardian angels.
No matter can account for such desires, it’s wonderful how those that’ve handed away act so like themselves in them. This was true of my daughter’s dream, as she informed it to me. She had misplaced a backpack stuffed with schoolwork, and Elizabeth was serving to her search for it. “I used to be actually nervous about dropping it,” my daughter stated, “and she or he made me really feel certain I’d discover it. She was very useful and type. She made me really feel protected.”
That was the Elizabeth I knew: supportive, current, heat. As a Jewish girl, I can’t consider her with out remembering that a part of her that was all the time very acquainted, reflecting the very best of Jewish tradition. She was hamish as hell. She wished to speak to you, feed you, provide you with presents, argue you over to her perspective, let you know what to do. I as soon as needed to restrain her from calling up a person who had damage my emotions, as a result of it will have embarrassed me; however I knew it was her manner of claiming she cared.
However there was one other Elizabeth, a extra troubled and tough one – which is definitely no secret. She made a literary profession out of speaking about that particular person, a lady who irritated and exhausted her as a lot as she may these round her. Her unique title for her groundbreaking 1994 memoir Prozac Nation was I Hate Myself and I Need to Die – a darkish, Jewish joke – however her editor persuaded her to alter it. Elizabeth has usually been known as a narcissist, however I believe that’s a misnomer; I believe she was simply sincere – too sincere for some individuals’s style. Earlier than that guide, you hadn’t seen a lady dissect herself with such rawness. And a few individuals weren’t prepared for that, and resented her for it.
Prozac Nation is credited with sparking a resurgence of the memoir style, and continues to be a supply of inspiration and luxury for these combating habit. Elizabeth bought letters and emails from readers thanking her almost 30 years after its publication. She was an icon. Which she wore very calmly. In 15 years of realizing her – we formally met in 2005 – I by no means heard her brag.
The guide got here out when she was simply 27, making her a literary superstar in a manner that doesn’t actually exist any extra. The circles wherein writers and journalists travelled again then have been smaller, and all people congregated extra usually. I bear in mind seeing her at events in New York Metropolis within the 90s, when each room she walked into buzzed with pleasure and the type of jealousy writers are so good at nursing. On prime of her superstar – which the jealous varieties rushed to say she didn’t deserve – she was stunning, along with her huge, haunting, brown eyes. Eyes which appeared to say: “I’m not going to allow you to, or myself, get away with something.” My favorite guide of hers, 1998’s Bitch: In Reward of Troublesome Ladies, is a wild, meandering feminist manifesto taking society to activity for failing to grasp robust girls – girls like herself – who chafe at being undervalued and underestimated, dismissed as loopy or uncontrolled.
When she was identified with breast most cancers in 2015, Elizabeth wrote that the illness, “like many issues that occur to girls, is usually a ache within the ass. However in contrast with being 26 and loopy and ready for some man to name, it’s not so unhealthy.” One other darkish joke, which made me snigger. She dealt with most cancers the best way she did every little thing: bravely.
At Elizabeth’s funeral service, which passed off on the Higher West Facet, the place she was raised, my daughter (now 20) and I stood up as a present of respect when the pallbearers carried out her coffin. I used to be struck by how tiny that coffin was – I don’t know why this had been the selection; if I needed to guess, I’d say it was her personal alternative, with its lack of pretension. However it made me cry, to think about her tiny physique inside that little field. Such an enormous life she had, and such an outrageous expertise she was, my good friend, who did a lot, and was so usually misunderstood.