Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood
|Narrated By:||Ellen Archer|
|Date:||31 March 2005|
From earliest experimentation to habitual excess to full-blown abuse, twenty-four-year-old Koren Zailckas leads us through her experience of a terrifying trend among young girls, exploring how binge drinking becomes routine, how it becomes the usual. With the stylistic freshness of a poet and the dramatic gifts of a novelist, Zailckas describes her first sip at fourteen, alcohol poisoning at sixteen, a blacked-out sexual experience at nineteen, total disorientation after waking up in an unfamiliar New York City apartment at twenty-two, when she realized she had to stop, and all the depression, rage, troubled friendships, and sputtering romantic connections in between.
Zailckas's unflinching candor and exquisite analytical eye gets to the meaning beneath the seeming banality of girls' getting drunk. She persuades us that her story is the story of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics-yet-but who use booze as a short cut to courage, a stand-in for good judgment, and a bludgeon for shyness, each of them failing to see how their emotional distress, unarticulated hostility, and depression are entangled with their socially condoned binging.
Like the contemporary masterpieces The Liars' Club, Autobiography of a Face, and Jarhead, Smashed is destined to become a classic. A crucial book for any woman who has succumbed to oblivion through booze, or for anyone ready to face the more subtle repercussions of their own chronic over-drinking or of someone they love, Smashed is an eye-opening, wise, and utterly gripping achievement.
Smashed chronicles Zailckas' decade-long struggle with alcohol abuse, beginning at fourteen, in an effort to explain the binge drinking phenomenon that plagues America's youth.
Around the time she quit drinking, Zailckas became preoccupied with an old memory, which involved a night that she had her stomach pumped when she was 16. According to Zailckas, she had not thought about that night in a number of years, but she suddenly could not get it out of her head. Eventually, she sat down and wrote about it. The piece later became a chapter in her book.
Around the same time, Zailckas was hearing a lot in the news about “girls of her generation” and how they were drinking younger and more than all the generations of women who'd gone before them. The Harvard School of Public Health reported, between 1993 and 2001, there was a threefold increase in the number of women who reported being drunk on ten or more occasions in the previous month. Time magazine ran a cover story about female binge drinkers. Zailckas did not agree with what the psychologists and the sociologists, the clinicians and the statisticians had to say, which was: “girls today are drinking more because they’re just so damn liberated, because they’re bursting with confidence and girl power, because they believe they can match boys everywhere, including the bar.” In her own experience, the author says, she and her female friends drank largely because it was an expression of their unhappiness and lack of confidence. It occurred to Zailckas, then 23, that she could offer a younger perspective.
As a writer, Zailckas says her writing is informed by memoirists Mary Karr, Nick Flynn, Tobias Wolff, as well as novelists T.C. Boyle, Jeffrey Eugenides, A.M. Homes, Richard Ford, Haruki Murakami. She has also admitted she is heavily influenced by music and song lyrics. Zailckas has been quoted as saying, "If you're a writer, there's a lot of inspiration to be found in lyrics. That's the first thing I do before I get to work in the morning: have a cup of coffee and put on a record."
On September 1, 2008 Zailckas married Eamon Hamilton, singer and songwriter of the acclaimed band Brakes, whom she met on the social networking site Myspace, in Romainville, France.