Despite 'Prozac,' Elizabeth Wurtzel still struggles with
By KIRK MILLER
Even a best-seller chronicling her
rampant depression, drug use, and
failed suicide attempts hasn't stopped
author Elizabeth Wurtzel from appre-
ciating the finer parts of life.
"You know what you want to do?"
she smiled as I entered her hotel room
on Tuesday afternoon, about four hours
before her two book readings in town.
"You really want to watch the opening
statements of the O.J. trial with me."
So for forty-five minutes and in-
termittently after that we sat as she
critiqued the prosecutor ("He's not
smooth."), his hairstyle ("I hate bald
men") and leaked some fascinating
inside details about the trial.
"I was in Los Angeles a few weeks
ago at a dinner party," she explained,
lying exhausted on the couch for the
entire interview. "I met Alan
Dershowitz's son ... he visited OJ....
who has snapped. He could pass a lie
detector test at this point. He really has
convinced himself he didn't do it."
Wurtzel reached this hobnobbing
with the semi-famous only in the last
year, having a surprising best-seller
with her tell-all autobiography
"Prozac Nation." Her book is filled
with more outrageous acts of depres-
sion and bizarre situations than any
unauthorized biographer could ever
have imagined, even more shocking
when considering that she is only in
her mid-twenties and is quite charm-
ing in person.
Her candidness is what makes her
so appealing in person and in the
book, but not in a cheap, exploitive
kind of way. But her surprise success
and outgoing nature has yielded mixed
results; besides coping with her on-
going depression, there have been
many unfavorable reviews of her book
(including from myself).
"It's been really weird," she ad-
mitted. "There are people who really
hate it, then there are people who
wildly love it. It's really disconcert-
ing ... I think people in this age group
resent it sometimes."
Most of "Prozac Nation" is har-
rowing, occasionally ironic but usu-
ally deadly serious with mind-numb-
ing details of Wurtzel's depression
and her inability to cope with it. Part
of the criticism comes from her ef-
forts to identify it as a generational
problem and some of it might be di-
rected at her comparisons to the last
bestselling depressive, Sylvia Plath.
But Wurtzel defended the work from
being a twentysomething version of
"The Bell Jar."
"I was more interested in her
(Plath's) personal life," she argued.
"Peoplejust thought I was comparing
my writing to hers. We're both kind
of Jewish women raised by single
mothers who went to private north-
eastern colleges and wrote. It's not a
bad parallel." She also pointed out
that Plath's neurotic classic was
widely panned when it was released.
As her second book tour winds
down and she prepares to go to Eu-
rope for the next leg, she hasn't been
in a great mood. Admitting she was
tired, she also pointed out that there
hasn't been a happy ending.
"In terms of my emotional state
it's been a bad several months," she
admitted. "The Prozac seems to have
stopped working. Ijust got depressed
in a way that I haven't in a long time.
It's just a general sense of not being
interested in life."
Lifelong depression or not,
Wurtzel has been anointed a genera-
tional bearer in the same way that Jay
McInnery and Bret Easton Ellis came
to represent growing up in the '80s.
She's been the focus of magazine
features and recently appeared sev-
eral times on Comedy Central's "Po-
litically Incorrect," showing off a wit
and candor in person that was lacking
in her book.
"I can't believe this is Eastern
time,", she sighed during one of her
many sudden conversational turning
points. "I had a boyfriend who went
here, and I always thought he was one
hour behind. My entire relationship I
had with this man was a fraud."
Wurtzel spent most of her life with
her mom on the East Coast, dealing
with a father who abandoned the fam-
ily when she was young and an unex-
plained depression that overtook her
when she was 11. In the book's best
sequences she dutifully described the
millions ofdifferent approaches thera-
pists and doctors took, all of them
contradictory and none of them ahelp.
Part of the problem extended from
what her doctors and mother consid-
ered a "normal" life.
"Depression is a protest against
the game," she said. "The American
dream, the values you don't fit into.
And some people do fit into them. A
lot of people at readings say 'You
have this, you have that, you went to
Harvard, how can you be unhappy?' I
think depression is a personal revolt.
It's sort of saying all the things in the
world don't add up to the essential
thing, the ability to relate to people."
Although her depression was
abated somewhat by Prozac seven
years ago, she admitted it's stopped
working and she is trying something
new. In the meantime she hopes to
write another book and a few maga-
zine articles when she gets home, and
also has taken an interest in a possible
movie based on her book. A recent
unconfirmed casting choice of Drew
Barrymore made her laugh.
"She's just too stupid," she ex-
plained. "I used to like her, she was
really amusing. But she posed in Play-
boy last month, and she looked terrible.
Her tits are really ugly ... it's really
distressing to see how bad she looked."
Wurtzel is still not happy, although
she said she does appreciate the warm
reaction from readers and people she's
met. In the end, she doesn't think her
life will be about her success, but how
she really feels.
"It's funny how much I still wish
I was someone else," she admitted.
Even busy promo tours, Elizabeth Wurtzel keeps up with the Simpson trial.
Rampal remains the master of the flute
By EMILY LAMBERT
Is there, and has there ever been,
anothet flute player quite like Jean-
Pierre Rampal? Now in his eighth
decade, Rampal has the impressive
January 25, 1995
lems that have forced the cancella-
tion of several recent engagements.
In light of this, Wednesday's event
was more than a performance.
Rampal's extraordinary presence
made the recital a gesture of reas-
A succession of pieces by
Telemann, Rameau and Bach made
the first half of the program decidedly
Baroque. Harpsichordist John Steele
Ritter and Rampal made an excellent
team, especially in J.S. Bach's "So-
nata in B Minor." Although their en-
ergy level waned in the later move-
ments, Rampal and Ritter seemed to
exhibit super-sensory communication
throughout the Adante's instrumen-
Following the intermission,
Rampal performed a piece that he
both recorded with the composer
and premiered, Poulenc's Sonata for
flute and piano. Now a staple work
in flute literature, the Sonata exudes
sweetness and sensitivity. Rampal
was plagued by problems of intona-
tion and technique, but he played
distinction of having established the
flute as a sought-after solo instru-
ment, bringing it to its current state
of popularity. He won a world of
adoring fans in the process, and
achieved a nearly immortal status.
The devoted audience at his
Wednesday night recital in Hill Au-
ditorium witnessed an often unseen
dimension of this legend. They saw
Rampal - who has been an inspira-
tion for so many - confronted by
challenges, including health prob-
with matchless nuances.
The most special moments of the
evening surfaced in the bold and
expressive "Sonata in A Major" by
Cesar Franck. The piece's lyrical
content highlighted Rampal's in-
credible artistry. Rampal played
with focus and warmth, and the flute
solo in the serene Fantasia move-
ment was rich and sonorous. Al-
though a hurt knee forced Rampal
to sit for most of the concert, the
music moved him to his feet on
several occasions. When standing,
Rampal could let his famous sound
soar into the concert hall.
Rampal conveyed a remarkable
connection with the piece by Franck,
and one can find an agreeable parallel
between the performer and the com-
poser. An innovator in French music,
Franck will long be remembered for
his ground breaking compositions. In
fact, the program's four movement
sonata was a break from the tradi-
tional form. Rampal, born a century
later, will be known for posterity as
the flutist who brought his art to a new
The three crowd-pleasing encores
provided more of a glimpse into
Rampal's phenomenal gift for music
making. He used to his gold flute to
capture the natural sound of a Japa-
nese melody, and Ritter provided per-
fect and appropriate accompaniment
Rampal has recently come under
fire from critics who rebuke him for
a declining technique. Yet in an age
when conservatories continuously
graduate flutists whose technical ac-
robatics rival those of the best, an
artistic performance by a seasoned
musician is a welcome treat.
Catie Curtis had the good sense to realize that the folks in Ann Arbor are suckers for sensitive singer-songwriters.
Award-innin Curtis moves al1l audiences
By ELLA DE LEON
No offense to all the drummers
out there, but percussion just wasn't
doing it for Catie Curtis. Score one
for the strummers; she chose the gui-
"Well, I started playing (guitar)
instead because I needed an instru-
ment I could play solo. Once I started
writing songs, I stayed with it."
So who is this Catie Curtis? Al-
though she has recently moved to
Ann Arbor, Curtis is originally from
Maine, where started performing in
high school as a drummer in a band.
She grew up listening to Rickie Lee
Jones, Bonnie Raitt and James Tay-
lor, which explains her switch to the
six-string. Curtis attended Brown
University, wrote in San Francisco
for a year, and released her first tape
"Dandelion" independently on her
own Mongoose Records in 1989.
After relocating to Boston and be-
ing employed as a social worker, Curtis
began to make herself known by play-
ing the coffeehouses and festivals. Her
second album, "From Years to Hours,"
came out in 1991. Rhino Records then
included "Minefields," a song from the
album, on the compilation "Putumayo
Presents: The Best of Folk Music." In
1993, Curtis garnered a Boston Music
Award nomination for OutstandingNew
Acoustic Act.InJune 1994, Catie added
yet another award to her resume: first
prize in the Troubadour Contest at the
21st Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festi-
val. Not to mention that after signing on
Boston'sHearMusic, "Truth from Lies"
hit the shelves in September.
Utilizing her soft, clear voice with a
catch, heartfelt lyrics, and rhythmic
guitar playing, it's no wonder Curtis
has achieved much. However,filling her
cabinet with trophies isn't Curtis' pri-
mary goal as a musician. Herobjectives
are "to continue to have time to work on
writing songs. To work with other mu-
sicians," which she did on "Truth from
Lies." John Gorka lends vocal support
on two tracks, while Patty Larkin plays
second guitaron "Cry Fire." Because of
that enriching experience, Catie also
plans "to have more opportunities to
work with talented musicians."
In front of an audience, however,
Curtis usually takes the stage with
only her guitar, no matter what size
the crowd. "Ireally enjoy both (large
and small audiences). With a large
audience, there's this kind of wave-
like response that happens slowly
throughout:.. whereas when you play
in a small coffeehouse, you can see
faces, you can see them react immedi-
ately, and things happen more quickly.
You can have fast-paced banter with
a small audience, and Ienjoy that. But
then it's fun to feel like you're a part
of this big, huge moving energy in a
large audience." Besides, as Curtis
confided, "I just try to entertain ...
and if I'm doing my job, I hope I'm
moving (the audience) or making them
laugh. I don't expect anything."
Curtis takes this laid-back ap-
proach in finding inspiration for her
songs as well. While she gets her
ideas "from talking to people," Curtis
can't really describe how songs make
their way into her head. "I don't know
exactly where the idea comes from. I
University of Michigan
School of Music
Tuesday, January 31
Professor emeritus Benning Dexter: "The Late Works of Brahms"
Recital Hall, School of Music, 11:30 a.m. free
Brass Master Class: Roger Bobo
Recital Hall, 4:30-6:30 p.m., free
Wednesday, February 1
University Choir, University Chamber Choir, Men's Glee Club,
Women's Glee Club, Arts Chorale
Jerry Blackstone, Theodore Morrison, Jonathan Hirsh, conductors
Dona nobis pacem from Bach's B Minor Mass, and much more
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m., free
Guest Recital: Roger Bobo, tuba
Former tubist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Solo recital with electronic accompaniment
Recital Hall. School of Music, 8 p.m., free
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