Her bestselling memoir Prozac Nation became an instant classic, but now Elizabeth Wurtzel reveals how she has finally found peace with a husband and is even planning to start a family.

A brief pause, as Elizabeth Wurtzel tries to think up any remaining vices.

"I put too much butter on my toast," she says, eventually.

"That's probably my worst vice now."

This from the one-time enfant terrible of modern American literature: a woman who made a career out of her addictions and dysfunctions, after her best-selling memoir, Prozac Nation, launched her into international celebrity at the age of 26.


Twenty-three years on, the 47-year-old New York-born writer and journalist is clean (she has been since 1998), serene, and newly married. Indeed, she bears so little resemblance to the "delicate", "disconnected", "dazed" and "rambling" individual interviewers who desperately tried to prise straight answers from in the past that I spend the first half hour of our conversation wondering why on earth she has been so badly misrepresented.

"The truth is that something about me changed in 2012," explains the Comparative Literature Harvard graduate when I pluck up the courage to ask who she is and what she's done with Elizabeth Wurtzel?

"The things that happened to me that year were so overwhelming that it made me realise that maybe my life was too crazy. So I moved to a new apartment - a place where I have finally achieved some calm - and I made peace with myself."

"Too crazy" in Wurtzel world is an incalculable concept. After all, this is the woman whose clinical depression led to self-mutilation and a suicide attempt.

A woman who, after the success of Prozac Nation propelled her to international fame and notoriety, "went home with a different man every night", did drugs and was, in her own words, "completely out of control".

The writing of her novel, Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women, both nearly killed the author - and saved her. Taking up to 40 times her prescribed daily dosage of Ritalin, she would write for 72 hours on the trot. Once the manuscript had been handed in, Wurtzel checked herself into rehab for four months, came out and took cocaine the very same day, "just to see if I still could". Six months later, when things "had got as bad as they possibly could," she tells me, "I cleaned myself up and I was done."

In the film version of Wurtzel's life, the author's happily-ever-after would have started there - but real life is neither so pleasingly linear nor so neat. For the following decade she ricocheted from one bad relationship to another, before being forced in 2012 to move out of her Greenwich Village apartment after a stalker turned up at her door and announced: "I'm going to slash up your face and ruin your life."

When she met her husband-to-be, writer James Freed Jr, in October the following year, she realised that "it wasn't just about meeting the right person but deciding that you are ready to meet the right person".


The pair were married in May, before 85 guests, on a friend's Soho rooftop - with Led Zeppelin playing on the stereo and the bride wearing a $200 white Krizia dress she found in a second-hand boutique.

"Every time I have to fill out a form now and check the 'married' box I can't quite believe it," she chuckles. "Here I am at 47, just married for the first time."

It's funny, I tell her, to hear the one-time emblem of disaffected youth sounding quite so, well, optimistic.

"Of course marriage is optimistic," she shrugs, "because it's the beginning of something. And maybe getting married for the first time at 47 is my real mistake - maybe I should be on my third or fourth marriage. But really what I can't believe is that people get married before they're 47. My husband is 35 and I can't understand why he's giving up on being single at such a young age. Single people have more fun, after all. They're out all the time at bars and museums - they're doing so much because they're looking for love."

From her writings on the subject, Wurtzel's single life sounds anything but fun. Describing herself as "the worst girlfriend ever", she tells me about some of the "crazy things" she used to do. "If I didn't hear from a man for one night, for example, I would decide that he was against me. Then I would call him 24 times a day and ask him why he was against me. Next thing you know, the whole relationship is about that conversation. I think I just had a taste for sabotage."

Any psychotherapist might be quick to put Wurtzel's neediness and lack of self-worth around men down to daddy issues. The only child of divorced parents, she recounts in Prozac Nation how she would try to pry her father's eyes open as he slept through her brief visits to see him. When he died last year, Wurtzel hadn't seen him since 2001. "To be honest, his death hasn't really affected me because I hardly knew him," she says quietly. "He was a stranger to me, which is sad..."

Does she wish she'd reconnected with him in his lifetime? "Well if I'd wanted to speak to him I would have. I tried many times but it just wasn't possible. And it wasn't that I was angry at him - I had forgiven him - but he had a personality that was impossible to get through to."

She only blames him for the depression she began to suffer from at the age of 10 "in that I think I inherited it from him - because my mum is really upbeat. I also think I inherited the BRCA gene [which can indicate cancer risk] from him."

Because in between being stalked, starting a new life and getting married, Wurtzel was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer - "which, like many things that happen to women", she surmised in a piece for Vice magazine earlier this year, "is mostly a pain in the ass". The double mastectomy she underwent in February and ongoing chemotherapy hasn't changed her, she insists with impressive pragmatism. "And I hope it doesn't - because then it means that breast cancer has won. And after everything I have been through, breast cancer is nothing. Not compared to giving up drugs - that was the hardest thing. It was so difficult that when I got through a whole day without doing drugs, I believed in miracles; I believed in God."

In the curiously detached manner of a writer used to observing her own reactions, Wurtzel marvels at the lack of sentimentality she felt towards her own breasts, once the operation had been completed and the reconstructive surgery was under way.

"I always thought that I liked my breasts," she explains, "but it turns out that given the opportunity to have bigger ones, I've taken it. Breasts are the most fetishised objects but it turns out that all the most fetishised breasts that we see now are fake. Thanks to advertising and Victoria's Secret, I don't know many women who don't think their breasts are either too large or too small - many of whom have had surgery, and not because of cancer. So although it's traumatic for women to have mastectomies because they are particularly attached to their breasts, so many women without breast cancer are not that attached to their breasts and want to change them anyway. That's crazy, isn't it?"

Although she will admit that chemotherapy "takes the wind out of you", postponing the wedding was never an option. "Jews don't postpone weddings. And because I still have surgery and radiation coming up, who knows? You might end up postponing it for ever." I get the feeling Wurtzel's done with postponing life, full stop. Following on from her 2003 memoir, More, Now, Again, she's busy planning her next autobiographical tome - tentatively entitled And Now This - and even thinking of starting a family.

"I might still have kids. It's definitely a part of life that you don't want to miss out on. I should have frozen my eggs before chemotherapy, but I was too overwhelmed. I will have to hope that science has miraculous solutions for me. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But I believe I could be a good mother," she adds with aplomb. "Because it turns out that when I love somebody, there's nothing I wouldn't do."

Creatocracy: How the Constitution Invented Hollywood' by Elizabeth Wurtzel is out now, published by Thought Catalog.