BITCH: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel (Doubleday 1998)
Reviewed by Geneva World
Described as "the Courtney Love of letters", by Entertainment Weekly, BITCH is a book about opinions, facts, rumors and judgements. Written by twenty-something-now-turned-thirty Elizabeth Wurtzel. The girl who gave the literary voice of Generation X way-back-when with Prozac Nation, BITCH is yet another exploration into Wurtzel's feelings, ideas and experiences of being a single female with a little too much attitude.
BITCH was written while Wurtzel, a Harvard graduate, was scattered across the
East Coast, living with relatives and roommates in the aftermath of Prozac Nation's success. The pages read like a journal bordering as a rough draft of a college essay, which can make reading and comprehension a difficult task in some areas. The upside is an example of a new voice in the written word.
You may think Wurtzel has something to say in the defense of society's most
infamous bitches. Chapter One starts with the rewarding title 'He Puts Her On
a Pedestal and She Goes Down On It'. Major discussion is consumed with the bible story of Delilah and Samson. Delilah, one of the biblical bitches, who was given flesh years later by Elizabeth Hurley, the woman responsible for cutting her lover Samson's hair and turning the newly weak man over to the Philistines for certain death. Wurtzel never denies that Delilah did her boyfriend in but also points us to the fact that she was just a girl with feelings who was pressured by family and friends to turn over her murderous
brute. This may remind you a little of Nicole Brown Simpson. (Continue with Wurtzel's book and you may not think the Brown girls were so sweet.)
There are plenty of new statements of the character virtue (or flaws,
depending on who you ask) on Courtney Love, Madonna, Amy Fisher, Hilary Clinton, Frances Farmer and Sylvia Plath. Personas of the stars are not the only topics to get a bitch-eye view. Tennessee William's play The Dollhouse, MTV's My So Called Life and Fatal Attraction all get attention, as well as the Riot Grrl Movement, The Joy Luck Club and why Paula Jones should just shut-up.
Women are not considered as the sole originators of their bitchdom. Attention
and explanation is given to the some boy psyches too. Some men under Wurtzel's microscope included Kurt Cobain, O.J. Simpson and the Commander-in-Chief, help give an example of cause and effect.
At the closing of the epilogue, you may not find any answers. Just excuses, Some reasons for bitches and why they should be praised. It's up to you to defend or destroy her points. Wurtzel, of course, doesn't let you choose before telling you she doesn't care what you think and how she has spent the last few years being a 'bad girl'. What else would you expect from a bitch?
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