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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Bitch, Elizabeth Wurtzel's second book, was written over the course of a year in which she lived in four different apartments, three hotels, one seamy residential motel, and two houses. But the book is anything but transient. In luminescent prose, Wurtzel takes to task a double standard imposed on women: the cultural insistence on goodness and society's complete obsession with badness.
No one understands the desire to be bad more than Elizabeth Wurtzel. Bitch is a brilliant tract on the history of manipulative female behavior. By looking at women who derive their power from their sexuality, Wurtzel offers a trenchant cultural critique of contemporary gender relations. Beginning with Delilah, the first woman to supposedly bring a great man down (latter-day Delilahs include Yoko Ono, Pam Smart, and Bess Myerson), Wurtzel finds many biblical counterparts to the men and women in today's headlines. In five brilliant essays, she links the lives of women as demanding and disparate as Amy Fisher, Hillary Clinton, Margaux Hemingway, and Nicole Brown Simpson. Wurtzel gives voice to those women whose lives have been misunderstood, who have been dismissed for their beauty, their madness, their youth. She finds in the story of Amy Fisher the tragic plight of all Lolitas, our thirst for their brief and intense flame. She connects Hemingway's tragic suicide to those of Sylvia Plath, Edie Sedgwick, and Marilyn Monroe, women whose beauty was ultimately an end in itself. Writing about the wife/mistress dichotomy, Wurtzel explains how some women are anointed wife material whileothersare relegated to the role of mistress.
Both celebratory and cautionary, Bitch catalogues some of the most infamous women in history, defending their outsize desires, describing their exquisite loneliness, and championing their take-no-prisoners approach to life and to love. Whether writing about Courtney Love, Sally Hemings, Bathsheba, Kimba Wood, Sharon Stone, or Princess Di — or waxing eloquent on the hideous success of The Rules, the evil that is The Bridges of Madison County, the twisted logic of You'll Never Make Love in This Town Again — Wurtzel is back with a bitchography that cuts to the core.