Healthy Just Doesn't Exist: A Review of Darcie Wilder's "literally show me a healthy person"
by Madalyn Whitaker
“how come ‘put me out of my misery’ only really means one thing”
I found out about the Alt-Lit scene first through the Illuminati Girl Gang magazine, published and ran completely by girls on Tumblr, and then by stumbling across Melissa Broder’s (author of “So Sad Today” and “The Pisces”) Twitter account (@sosadtoday) in 2013. After entering into the world of Alt-Lit I was hooked, and I am constantly trying to find the new hidden authors within it. This is how I found Darcie Wilder’s “literally show me a healthy person.” Broder retweeted one of Wilder’s tweets and I immediately followed her. After a month of following Wilder on Twitter, I was in love. Her tweets are ridiculous, but are things we’ve all thought in our heads, and didn’t know how to put into words without sounded vulgar or absolutely crazy. Luckily, Wilder is not afraid to do either and it shows in, not only her Twitter account, but also her book. I came across “literally show me a healthy person” when ordering coffee. The bright purple cover and the demanding yet blasé title grabbed my attention, and then I realized that the author Darcie Wilder was the same Darcie Wilder I followed on Twitter. I had to read it.
Nothing is grammatically correct, nothing is linear, and nothing is off limits in this book. I was almost surprised she didn’t write the entire thing in Comic Sans. Wilder pulls her reader in right away with the haphazard stream of consciousness broken into Tweet length paragraphs and continues the entire book this way. The first twenty pages I was constantly left wondering what the hell this book was about besides partying, drugs, and cum, but the further I dug, I realized Wilder is unfolding her internal struggle of learning to cope with her mother’s death, how to make sense of her rather unconventional childhood and all of this helped further her downward spiral into the rabbit hole that is the party scene of New York City.
It took a few pages before I caught on to the fact that this book has no sense of time. Wilder never roots the reader in one place for too long unless she specifically says “here I am 18,” or makes a reference to a certain band from a very nostalgic era, or makes one of her many witty 9/11 references. Otherwise, the glimpses into her life are timeless. I felt like I was reading a transcription of my own anxiety-ridden thoughts that just keep going and going. By the end of the book, I felt like I should’ve been out of breath.
Wilder gives her reader an intimate look into her life with unedited thoughts straight from her head. She tells of her boyfriend, Geoff, who breaks up with her multiple times throughout the book, and I hated everything about him down to the spelling of his name. She tells you about the twenty bugs she found in her peanut butter as a kid, and her uncle who possibly killed her grandfather on a fishing trip. Wilder finds a way to make you absolutely hate everyone in her life, including her, but still want to know more about all of these terribly flawed characters.
The most stunning aspect of this novel is how Wilder tells of a neglected childhood, the grief that comes with losing a mother, and the pain of heartbreak, all through small excerpts about drugs, sex, roaches, and a strangely specific obsession with eggs. Darcie Wilder is like a modern Djuana Barnes, but instead of monologues from a cross-dressing doctor, she tells her story through the fast-paced thoughts of a girl that grew up in a roach infested apartment in Bushwick. Wilder is in the forefront of a new type of literature. A type of literature that takes the idea of stream of consciousness, but leaves it raw, unedited, and true to a generation that finds themselves on Twitter more than they would like to admit.