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Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women Paperback – May 18 1999
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Elizabeth Wurtzel, an ex-rock critic for The New Yorker, won controversial fame with her bestselling 1994 memoir Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, which described how Prozac saved the precocious Harvard grad from suicide. Her second book, Bitch is a celebration of the defiant, rock-and-roll spirit of self-destructive women through the ages: Delilah, Amy Fisher, Princess Di, and hundreds more (including the awesomely reckless Wurtzel). There is no comprehensible central line of argument, perhaps because the author did her exhaustive research and writing on a speedy Kerouacesque drug binge that, by her own admission, sent her to rehab upon the book's conclusion. But Wurtzel has the remains of a fine mind: her insights are often sharp, sometimes bitchy, and always shameless as she zooms in a very few pages from The Oresteia to O.J. to her first crush on a fictional character Heathcliff) to Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, Richard Pryor, Chrissie Hynde, Leaving Las Vegas, Gone with the Wind, Sylvia Plath's "Daddy," Schindler's List, Oliver! Carousel, and Andrea Dworkin. Most pop culture pundits incline to grandiose blather, but Wurtzel is punchy, and her quotes are more often apt than pretentious. Bitch is like a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in a library, with frequent rampages through the film and music archives. Like rock music, Wurtzel's prose style lives for the moment. She glories in breaking rules to bits, is never giddier than when she's saying something shocking, and apparently has no moral code except self-expression--with the attitude volume knob cranked up to 11. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
There is little praise for women in Wurtzel's hyperbolic rant about "bad girls" and their relationship to Western society. Indeed, hip turns of phrase frequently replace logic in this often smug and overwritten screed. In her defense, Wurtzel (Prozac Nation, LJ 8/94) has taken on a huge project, and every now and again she introduces a startling insight about how women manipulate situations to control their lives. Her look at the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah is particularly instructive in elucidating the history of our reaction to the alluringly repulsive femme fatale. Likewise, her presentation of both mythic and real women who flaunt their "pussy power" makes for provocative reading. Nonetheless, nearly a quarter of the book focuses on Nicole Brown Simpson (who few would call a "difficult woman") and is shockingly mean-spirited. While she lambastes the Simpson jury as "just plain stupid," we never learn how she knows what the jury did not: that O.J. killed Nicole. Since she was not in the courtroom, her cavalier dismissal of the verdict rankles and casts doubt on her other arguments. Worse, she seems to believe that violence is endemic to being "crazy in love," and her writing romanticizes the black eye and slapped cheek as proof of passionate involvement. In addition, Wurtzel completely ignores lesbians?an odd omission since the expression of Sapphic love represents a blatant rejection of "good girl" norms?and dismisses the happily single, writing that "it would be easier to eliminate racism or end poverty or cure illiteracy or dethrone Fidel Castro than it would to make girls stop wanting to be brides." Recommended only as catalyst for debate.
-?Eleanor J. Bader, New School for Social Research, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, Wurtzel has once again set us back, again to the '80s, where women are allowed to be independent as long as they suffer the consequences of failed love relationships, success based only on their looks, and empty rebellion for the sake of rebellion.
Wurtzel, using a handful of notororious examples including herself, argues that there is something inherent about women that makes them self-destructive, usually in the name of a man.
Furthermore, Wurtzel seems to lack adequate knowledge about the psychology of women, using Carol Gilligan, a little respected '70s "feminist" psychologist, as her only scholarly-based evidence on the problems faced by adolescent girls. Instead of discussing empirically-based findings on the social problems that still plague women today, she resorts to personality and psychodynamic based explanations about why there are so many women who are screwed up.
It seems that she's been to too many unhelpful therapy sessions and has now used herself as a basis of generalizing to an entire generation of women...unfair and just as bad as prevailing traditional stereotypes about good, little women.
After an introduction which, if you get beneath all the anecdotes, poses the question, 'what is it about women which makes them either good or bad, sexy or studious, wives or mistresses?' Wurtzel gives us five essays, each tackling various aspects of the female psyche. Each one is titled respectively: "He Puts Her On a Pedestal And She Goes Down On IT", "Hey Little Girl, Is Your Daddy Home?", "There She Goes Again", "The Blonde In The Bleachers," and "Used To Love Her But Had To Kill Her". Then, there is an epilogue, cleverly entitled, "Did I Shave My Legs For This?", which shows the difficulty that single women face, and the burdens which society simply expects women to carry in relationships.
The first essay tackles the mystery of female seductiveness and how men are always wont to blame a woman for their downfall, even when it is their own guilelessness which causes them to fall for this woman in the first place. Such is the case in the tale of "Samson and Delilah", where the Bible clearly shows Delilah to be a woman of ill-repute, who ruined Samson. Next, she tackles the dilemmas of adolescent emotions, using the story of Amy Fisher, and how her affair with an older man led to her tragically attempting to kill his wife, who, to this day, denies that her husband had any involvement with Ms. Fisher.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
And what a waste it is. I had the feeling I was on crystal meth during this painfully meandering and meaningless read. I was on the mark as it turned out from her next disaster. Read morePublished on May 21 2004 by Lisa Charles
I tried to read this book twice and couldn't finish it. It is very bad, and the sentences are long and confusing, and Elizabeth Wurtzel has no direction in the book. Read morePublished on Feb. 24 2004 by Dhaval Vyas
But I read a lot too...and I love difficult/high maintenance/troubled/bad, et al, women...I loved this book.
De ol' devilchef gives dis tome a 5 mojo*z review!!!
More more more- there could be more versions of this theme. I loved the book. It is a fun fast read and I learned about alot of women I wouldn't normally see in the light they are... Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2003 by FemBot
I love feminist literature. This book, however, was boring, pretentious, poorly researched and poorly thought out. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2003
In her second book, Elizabeth Wurtzel examines the role and plight of the bad girl through Western history. Read morePublished on April 19 2003 by zelmer wilson
This is a very entertaining and provocative book that proves that Wurtzel does indeed have a brain. A lot of research clearly went into compiling it, and I think she's done a... Read morePublished on March 25 2003 by Avery Z. Conner
I loved Prozac Nation and was more than willing to forgive a first author her foibles - lack of coherence and cohesiveness. Read morePublished on March 15 2003
he may've penned something like this.
Her endless pop cultural references got boring but it was easy to skim them over and come back in on yarns I was more interested in. Read more