Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Smashed: Story of a Drunken GirlhoodSmashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Both shockingly honest and also too familiar. The difference I could tell between the author and me is I couldn't feel her overwhelming shame or guilt or remorse in these pages. I have lived through many of the same alcohol induced experiences and, in fact quite a few more since she was in her twenties before she had sex and apparently was never caught drinking and driving. She also quit drinking by 23, whereas I have over 10 years on her by now. Even in my most innocent alcoholic encounters, I felt guilty. She talks about her stomach being pumped and who knows possibly being raped and waking up in strager's houses with the air of a documentary, but never seems afraid of her choices or worried about what other people thought of her. She's much more of a puker than I ever was but, again, she didn't seem embarrassed by it, just saw it as part of being young and drunk. I am impressed with her candor and writing, even if it felt like she was a little removed from it all.

She ends her book with a passionate rage against the alcohol industry in the media.  Most eye catching to me was this:

"Drinking, like all forms of self-destruction, isn't a valid art form - because it allows the world to rejoice in our weakness..."

She also says:  "I've had it with a world that has created a generation of women who are emotionally dependent on alcohol, and then demonized us for our lack of feminine control."

And finally:  "I see alcohol like a man who courted us all.  Alcohol has been the first love of so many of us; it had us believing we were desirable and challenging in its presence alone.  It let us think it would take us away from small towns, stressful studies, tedious jobs, or unproductive relationships.  We have been terrifyingly devoted to it, and it's left too many of us heart sore."


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