Depending on who you ask, Elizabeth Wurtzel, the writer most famous for her debut memoir Prozac Nation, was either a pioneer whose whip-smart, candid writing paved the way for much of the confessional nonfiction of the last three decades or an attention-seeking psycho who refused to grow up.
Notorious New York Times hardass Michiko Kakutani compared Prozac Nation, about Wurtzel’s experiences as a young adult with depression, to Plath, Dylan, and Didion; the same day, another Times critic suggested therapists give it to patients and warn: “Read this; if you don't watch out, you could end up sounding like her." Almost 20 years later, when Wurtzel wrote a New York magazine reflection on her party-adjacent, perpetually unsettled, “one-night stand of a life,” the New Yorker called it “self-aggrandizing, disjointed, and, in its most egregious moments, leaves the impression that her editors might have been egging her on.” The same magazine would memorialize her by calling it “one of the best things she ever wrote.”
But both Wurtzel’s critics and defenders would agree that the woman liked to lay it all out there. That was kind of her thing. That’s all to say, it’s fitting and slightly funny — but mostly sad and strange — that what’s left of Wurtzel’s life is now laid out for anyone to examine on AuctionNinja.com. The auction opens at 7:15 p.m. tonight, for anyone who wants some of her stuff. There are a lot of nice, very worn-in shoes; a number of books, some of them signed; much of her own book-related merchandise; an amount of trinkets that suggests her home very much suited her messy personality; and more skull iconography than I would expect from anyone who stopped going to Spencers in high school. And a few items I have questions about, such as a very old Mahjong set, these vaguely unsettling dolls, and this “knit feminist crown.” Some other highlights:
This miniature loom sewing both an Israeli and an American flag
Current bid: $50
This sign that says “Drama Dept.”
Current bid: $57
This sign that says “To the Bar.”
Current bid: $15
Some might say this is on the nose, given Wurtzel’s years of self-documented drug and alcohol abuse. I’m choosing to see it as some fun wordplay, regarding her pivot to becoming a lawyer, initially failing the Bar exam and later passing it only to immediately start campaigning to have it abolished.
This photo of Wurtzel with her cat
Current bid: $15
These Henry Allen bookends
Current bids: $50 for the rollerskates, $30 for the dump truck
This pony-hair Le Corbusier lounge chair
Current bid: $205
This is more of what I expected to see in here. Same for this rare, gorgeous Nan Goldin book. (Current bid: $90).
This poster from the “Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents”
Current bid: $16