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Stephanie Wittels Wachs has endured something a sister should never have to experience.
In February of 2015, she lost her brother Harris to a heroin overdose.
Her brother wasn’t some low-bottom, down-and-out guy. Quite the opposite. He was actually nothing short of a legend in the comedy business, having been hired as a writer on The Sarah Silverman Show a year after graduating from college. From there, his career was on fire—he wrote on numerous MTV Movie Awards and was a writer and actor on Parks and Rec. When he died, he was on the verge of moving to New York to write on and star in Master of None with his friend Aziz Ansari. (In his spare time, he invented the word #humblebrag and wrote a book about it.)
In order to process her grief, Stephanie turned to the page…specifically to Medium.com, where she wrote a piece called “The New Normal” about a stranger’s reaction to their family’s grief. The post struck a cord and next thing Stephanie knew, she was writing a book. Well, that book, Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss, is out now. And it is brilliant and juicy and wonderful and horrible and basically tells such a gripping tale of what it’s like to be the sister of a genius who just happens to be a drug addict that you will feel confident you actually knew Harris Wittels when you’ve put the book down.
In this episode, we talked about the surreality of talking about a book that only exists because your brother is gone, if there’s anything she would have done differently and the strange and even hopeful places her mourning has taken her, among many other topics.