Radical Sanity: Commonsense Advice for Uncommon Women


Miss Wurtzel is back, and this time she's armed with advice for the modern woman. She's found the secret of life, and it's within everyone's reach. It's about enjoying your mistakes. It's about being strong. It's about eating dessert. It's about having opinions. It's about adoring feminism. It's about embracing fanaticism. It's also about saying your prayers, not overpacking, and making your boyfriend do the dishes.. Some of her words of wisdom:

- Think Productively: It's not that you have to see it to believe ...

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Radical Sanity: Commonsense Advice for Uncommon Women

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Miss Wurtzel is back, and this time she's armed with advice for the modern woman. She's found the secret of life, and it's within everyone's reach. It's about enjoying your mistakes. It's about being strong. It's about eating dessert. It's about having opinions. It's about adoring feminism. It's about embracing fanaticism. It's also about saying your prayers, not overpacking, and making your boyfriend do the dishes.. Some of her words of wisdom:

- Think Productively: It's not that you have to see it to believe it; on the contrary, you have to believe it to see it.
- Be Gorgeous: I myself believe that I am about ten times prettier than I actually am. By dint of sheer will power, I have managed to convince many people of this.
- Enjoy Your Single Years: Do not think that the whole point of being single is being married; men don't think this way, and neither should you.

In Radical Sanity, these lessons, and many more, are delivered with the sharp wit and candor we've come to expect -- and love -- from Elizabeth Wurtzel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women

"One of the more honest, insightful and witty books on the subject of women to have come along in a while."
-Karen Lehrman, New York Times Book Review

"The Courtney Love of letters--an extraordinarily thought-provoking, absorbing, wise, often poignant read. You can disagree with Wurtzel, but at least she always has a passionate point of view."
-Dana Kennedy, Entertainment Weekly

"It's got the preposterous energy of a great, drunken tantrum, and a voluptuous, sprawling style, with lots of good, zinging jokes."
-Mary Gaitskill, The Village Voice Literary Supplement

Praise for Prozac Nation:

"Sparkling, luminescent prose...by turns wrenching and comical, self-indulgent and self-aware, Prozac Nation possesses the raw candor of Joan Didion's essays, the irritating emotional exhibitionism of Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar, the wry, dark humor of a Bob Dylan song...a powerful portrait of one girl's journey through the purgatory of depression and back."
-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"Thoughtful...Very brave...like all provocateurs, she poses questions which make you think."
-Julia Phillips, Vanity Fair

"Sylvia Plath with the ego of Madonna."
-The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812991604
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 108
  • Sales rank: 799,526
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Wurtzel graduated from Harvard College, where she received the 1986 Rolling Stone College Journalism Award.  She was music critic at The New Yorker and New York, and her articles have appeared in numerous magazines.  She is the author of the best-selling Prozac Nation and Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women, and she currently lives in New York City.  The film Prozac Nation starring Christina Ricci and Jessica Lange will be released in 2001.
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Read an Excerpt

This is the essence of life. This is the only reason to get out of bed in the morning (besides a sale on shoes at Barneys or a very intriguing lunch date). Every day is a new opportunity to ask more questions and see what happens. If you do nothing else with your day, at least make many inquiries and feel free to demand good and satisfying answers from the powers that be, or just from some slightly nervous human being who is a bit put off by your forthrightness. Be especially demanding of those people: They are the ones who are standing in your way, whether they mean to or not.

In fact, it is fair to say that whether it intends to or not, the whole world is conspiring to keep you silent; do not be party to this cabal.

This does not mean that you ought to make a nuisance or menace of yourself-it is only to say that it is important to wonder, and sometimes you might want to do this out loud. This does not mean you should go through life in a manic talking spree, but if something seems very wrong to you or, better still, if something seems just right, do not let the moment pass you by, unremarked, evanescent. I think what I am trying to say is something like, seize the day, only a little more fanciful.

If you don't ask you will never find out. You will never know if you could have had that great job, or if that guy was available, or who the rock group Tesla was named after (some scientist). You will never know the difference between an elk, a moose, a deer, and a reindeer (mostly size and antlers), or the meaning of the word defenestrate (look it up). You will never know if Freud's theories are more important than Marx's or, for that matter, if Einstein's ideas don't trump them both (debatable). You will go through life brain-dead, wondering why nothing ever seems to happen to you beyond day after dreary day.

The greatest party on earth, the really wild and rowdy one where all the happy people are, where all the beautiful people are-the one that all of us are sure we're not invited to, and all of us feel certain is going on right now, on the next block, within reach: you will never know how to find this party, how to get there, what shibboleth to use at the door, what to do once inside. You will miss out on all the fun just because you were afraid to ask.

Curious people are not always the happiest people, but they are never bored. They are the kind of people who amuse themselves while in the queue to renew their driver's license by getting the life story of the person in front of them, and they are the women who meet the men they are to marry on an intercontinental flight or walking out of the cinema or in any of those places where people are supposed to meet but only the brave and slightly crazy ever do. People are constantly falling in love with women who ask a lot of questions, because inquisitive types are comfortable enough with what they know to admit to what they don't-and because they are often provocateurs, which is always sexy.

I have a dream that some day I will have a daughter who will believe she can eat what she wants, when she wants, without worrying about her thighs or her abs or her butt or the saggy batlike Hadassah arms that some women get at middle age. Maybe she won't even know the word cellulite.

Is this too much to expect? I think not. But in the meantime women can stubbornly refuse to succumb to the notion that food is the enemy. We can all join up with the Chocolate Cake Revolution (so far, I am the only member) and learn to love what is yummy once again. The fact is that if you really eat what you want when you want it and exercise three times a week like the experts say you should, you'll be fine. The whole offensive culture of dieting seems invented as yet another way to make women smaller and weaker-to make us become less, quite literally. The starving self symbolizes a diminishing person, and really we ought to strive to be more, to have more strength and muscle and inner resolve-which is what we get from working out or playing a sport, and what we lose when we live in hunger.

Even though models must be remarkably thin to mannequin clothes correctly-from a designer's perspective, the closer they come to resembling hangers, the better the dress will fall-most of us need not be concerned about how we'll appear on a runway or in fashion photographs. Those of us who are not Naomi or Kate or Gisele or Cindy must get off our imaginary catwalks and return to the land of flesh and blood, the sooner the better. Most of us need only worry about how we look in real life, which is not static, which allows our vitality and expressiveness to be part of our gorgeousness. The first step toward becoming this kind of living, breathing beauty is to eat your banana cream pie and cheesecake with great relish, to have your dessert like you believe you deserve it.

Men, by the way, find this trait very attractive, in contrast to vomitatious eating disorders, which no one finds appealing.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2003


    I love this book because it hepled me with my life I realized that there is poeple out there just like me wighting to be found to get help or just to talk to. I thought I had the bad and sad life but i really had one hell of life thanks to this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003

    Hilarious advice

    I'm a big Wurtzel fan, so I had to read this book even though I'm part of the male species. Most of the advice is so simple that I had to wonder whether she's trying to get a reaction out of people by saying silly things, or perhaps she really is serious. Reading this is sort of like overhearing a conversation between thirteen-year-old girls- not exactly too sophisticated. I don't know whether Wurtzel is getting desperate for more attention, but maybe she isn't, because this probably won't do it. I'd really like to see her do something a little more intellectually challenging, like her previous books. Overall though, most of her fans may still enjoy this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

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    Posted August 14, 2011

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