An Inclusive Litany

2/19/02

An unsympathetic Jan Wong relates her encounter with silenced dissident and drug addict Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of "absurdly narcissistic books" such as Prozac Nation and Bitch, in the Toronto Globe & Mail, February 16, 2002:
On Sept. 11, Wurtzel, who usually gets up at the crack of noon, was asleep when her mother called to say a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. "My main thought was: What a pain in the ass."

Her apartment was at ground zero, on Greenwich Street, south of Chambers. She could see the twin towers from her window. Or she could have, if she had bothered to get out of bed.

Then the second plane hit, and more people called. Wurtzel finally hauled herself up in time to watch one tower collapse. "I had not the slightest emotional reaction," she recalls. "I thought: 'This is a really strange art project.' "

Wurtzel takes a tiny bite of monkfish and ponders the worst terrorist attack in New York's history. "It was a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance. It fell like water. It just slid, like a turtleneck going over someone's head."

She takes another bite of monkfish. "It was just beautiful. You can't tell people this. I'm talking to you because you're Canadian."

Then her windows blew in. Airplane chunks landed on her roof. Wurtzel crawled into the basement and was later removed from the building. To this day, she can't understand why everyone else was so upset. "I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me."

Wurtzel became hysterical only when she realized she wouldn't be allowed back to fetch her cat. She used her psychiatrist's husband, who is head of the New York City hospital association, to get her past police lines.

"I cried about all the animals left there in the neighbourhood," Wurtzel says. But she has remained dry-eyed about all the human victims. "I think I have some kind of emotional block. I think I should join some support group for people who were there."

Asked if she has written about her eyewitness account of the World Trade Center attack, Wurtzel tosses her blond mane. "You know what was really funny? After the fact, like, all these different writers were writing these things about what it was like, and nobody bothered to call me."

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