Ned Vizzini, Author of Teenage Novels, Dies at 32

He took his own life, according to his father, James. The New York City chief medical examiner’s office said he suffered blunt impact injuries. The writer’s brother, Daniel, told reporters that Mr. Vizzini had jumped off the roof of the building where their parents live.

Mr. Vizzini wrote openly about his struggles with depression and spoke about it with student groups. One of his most celebrated novels, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” published in 2006, is based on the five days he spent in the psychiatric ward of a Brooklyn hospital in 2004.

That was the same year he published his well-received first novel, “Be More Chill,” about an insecure high school student who becomes more confident after ingesting a pill-sized supercomputer. The success of “Be More Chill” brought him a contract to write two more books, but his initial excitement faded as he began to struggle with the writing and fell into despair.

Medication for depression helped, but only when he took it. He stopped eating and sleeping and began considering suicide. Late one night he walked from his parents’ home to the New York Methodist Hospital emergency room.

“With my life stripped of everything but the absolute essentials,” he said in an interview on the hospital’s website, “I got my appetite back, and through individual and group counseling, medication management, therapeutic activities on the unit, sincere care from the people who worked there, and some very eye-opening conversations with my fellow patients, I made it.”

The novel he had been struggling to write became “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” about a high school student whose demanding parents and high-pressure academic pursuits help propel him into a psychiatric hospital.

“This is an important book, not only because it will help teenagers recognize unhealthy expectations and know there are alternative choices, but also because it could enlighten adults who are making their kids crazy,” Tanya Lee Stone wrote in The New York Times Book Review. “Of course, these grown-ups may not know who they are — so if you do, be sure to give them this book.”

Ms. Stone and other critics suggested that Craig Gilner, the book’s lead character, gets better unrealistically quickly. Mr. Vizzini addressed this issue on his website:

“My response is that Craig didn’t get better as in ‘his depression is cured.’ He got better as in ‘he’s not going to consider suicide again.’ He sorted out some (and only some) things in his life … like I did.”

Born Edison Price Vizzini on April 4, 1981, in Manhattan, Mr. Vizzini legally changed his first name to his nickname, Ned. After his family moved to Brooklyn, he attended the highly competitive Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. While there, he began reading the weekly newspaper New York Press. At 15, he began writing for the paper about teenage issues. Two years later his first article in The Times was published, an essay in The Times Magazine: “Teen Angst? Nah!,” which sought to put teenagers at ease about sex, drinking and other matters.

“The media present adolescence as hell on earth, chock full of evil cliques (the cliques in grade school are worse), domineering parents and wrenching decisions that will determine the rest of your life,” he wrote. “Nah. Adolescence is a time to sit back, make some friends — and maybe discover what you’re good at. Don’t believe the hype.”

Two years later, while he was a student at Hunter College, he published a collection of his work, “Teen Angst? Naaah …”

In 2012 he published another novel, “The Other Normals.” This year he published the first in a planned trilogy of fantasy books for young adults, “House of Secrets,” written with the movie director Chris Columbus. He also wrote for the television shows “Teen Wolf,” “Last Resort” and “Believe,” and for The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times and other publications.

In addition to his father and brother, Mr. Vizzini’s survivors include his wife, Sabra Embury; his son, Felix; his mother, Emma; and his sister, Eleanora. In recent years Mr. Vizzini and his family had lived in Los Angeles.

In 2010, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” was made into a film starring Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts, with Keir Gilchrist as Craig. The Times critic A. O. Scott was complimentary but said the film lacked “the sometimes awkward, occasionally self-conscious but unmistakably authentic energy that characterizes Mr. Vizzini’s prose and also, more important, the zest and irreverence with which he approaches difficult themes.”

Source Article from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/books/ned-vizzini-author-of-teenage-novels-dies-at-32.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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