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Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood

Written by Koren Zailckas

Narrated by Ellen Archer


Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood

Written by Koren Zailckas

Narrated by Ellen Archer

ratings:
3.5/5 (35 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 1, 2005
ISBN:
9781400171545
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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.
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 1, 2005
ISBN:
9781400171545
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Koren Zailckas is an internationally bestselling writer, and has contributed to the Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, Glamour, Jane and Seventeen magazine. She currently lives with her family in the Catskills mountains of New York.



Reviews

What people think about Smashed

3.4
35 ratings / 28 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (1/5)
    I actually only made it halfway through before I put the book down. I actually should have known from the tone of the Introduction that I might not like it but the opening few chapters were engaging so I read on. The statistical information (complete with footnotes) folded into the narrative was jarring. I could find little empathy for her character and in fact lost all connection when this self-described "loner and misfit" inexplicably becomes a cheerleader. I'm honestly glad that Koren has found her way to the other side of her "drunken girlhood" but I just didn't care enough to see her through her entire journey.
  • (3/5)
    Honest and eye-opening, not so much because of Zailckas's candid story about alcohol abuse and the related experiences, but because of how completely NORMAL this is. My friends and I have been in her shoes at some point in our lives. Overachievers in the classroom and perfectly behaved otherwise, many young girls choose to binge drink the weekend away for one reason or another. I like Zailckas's writing style - a worthwhile read.
  • (5/5)
    This memoir reveals the struggles of one young girl/woman struggling with alcohol. She is an introverted individual who finds that drinking frees her to feel more outgoing, interesting, confident, beautiful, etc. Though her amount of time spent drinking is someone curtailed in high school, during college she spirals further out of control. She finds herself blacking out, making destructive friends, losing friends, and feeling her life slipping away from her. She has encounters with men she feels no control over and cannot always remember, leaving her increasingly jaded about romance. However, her story is not only about drinking- it is also about men and women, masculinity and feminism, and how men who are drunk can act a certain way while women who are drunk are looked down on for exhibiting the same behavior. Quote: “I’m tired of the world that won’t rescue girls until we’re long past the point of savingâ€?I found this book really, really difficult to put down. The level of self-destructiveness portrayed by the author and the people she knows, specifically her assertion that these problems are much more common than people believe. I think some of the most interesting parts were the portions when she talks about the differences she’s noticed about men and women drinking. Specifically, that men when drunk often express their anger outward, breaking things, throwing things, getting in fistfights, while women when drunk often express their anger inwards, cutting themselves, developing eating disorders, becoming increasingly depressed and suicidal. I was not expected the book to have a feminist slant as it did, occasionally commenting on the portrayal of women in the media, specifically in alcohol commercials.
  • (2/5)
    Two white, privileged fourteen year-olds raid a parent’s rum cabinet before a birthday party. Several high-schoolers get wasted one night at a bonfire on hard alcohol provided by an older sibling. A dorm of freshman girls run wild through the halls, nightly, swigging wine and stealing couches from the lounge. A sorority pledge event involves massive alcohol consumption and fraternity heckling with underage students. Manhattan interns are invited to lavish corporate parities where older executives are blasted off of their toes on $39 martinis. Young corporate fledglings begin to follow in the footsteps of older office-mates who come in red-eyed and disheveled after launch parties and “business dinners”.While all disturbing in their own way, these are hardly newsworthy headlines. We, as a drinking, partying culture, observe, dismiss and even celebrate alcoholic excesses as rites of passage, matters of fact and facts of life. This is Koren Zailckas’ thesis in Smashed. From parental negligence, or sometimes even encouragement, to Budweiser ’s sexualization of the drinking girl, to general pressures of society, we, especially as women, notes Zailckas, are born, literally, into a culture doused in ok’d abuses.Her own drinking life is chronicled from pre-highschool through recent post-grad. It is an interesting take on the way many many people go through their teen years, young adulthood and even sometimes into later adult life. In short, I enjoyed many parts of it.Now the big however.I finished this book almost a day ago and still can’t tell you how I feel about it. On some levels, I thought it was fantastic. On some levels I wanted to throw it across the room. Did I want to throw it across the room because some of it, substance related or simply reflections on society, hit a little bit close to home? Maybe. But still, there were some reflections masquerading as truths that I found to be wholly subjective, rather than objective.I agree, wholeheartedly, that the alcohol industry plays a role in how we view the act of drinking. Just like selling candy and junk food to kids who watch children’s programming may lead to obesity and the constantly shrinking runway model/hotel heiress may lead to disordered eating, the barrage of The Party Girl on MTV, in Vogue, on billboards, are only part of the problem.Certainly, there are double standards. If a drunk frat boy has relations with a drunk sorority girl, he’ll be labeled a stud and she’ll be labeled easy. It was her fault she got drunk. It wasn’t his fault because he was drunk. She wanted it. Alcohol is marked to men and women differently, playing on feminine “weakness” and male “vitality”. We’re all aware of these cliches.I don’t, though, think that any of these ideas or truths are legitimate cause or excuse for lack of responsibility. I found that a good deal of the book meandered along, waiting for a “reason to stop”, waiting for friends, sisters, magazine ads and coworkers to stop their silly games so she could stop hers.I also found it hard to watch Koren go through several near death experiences (some of theme as harsh as stomach pumping and nonconsensual sex, others as “mild” as daily vomiting up blood) and numerous failed attempts to drink moderately, to have her repeatedly cry out that she was not an “alcoholic”; she just abused alcohol, simply because she had no known family history of alcoholism. For me, this seems like a big fat slice of denial as most of her drinking seemed uncontrollable and emotionally fueled, but, that, I suppose, in itself, was not a deal breaker for me. I am not her sponsor. I am not her therapist. I am not her mother and I am not her.Criticism aside, I enjoyed the book. It did shed light on a large portion of culture that goes uncriticized as it simply allows “girls to be girls” or “boys to be boys”. The writing, itself, was great and I’d like to see Zailckas turn out fiction in the future. Over all a good start, albeit, a tad subjective. But hey, I dislike memoirs, as a general rule, so the fact that I read it and have positive things to say, means it was pretty good.
  • (4/5)
    At times I was totally captured by this book at at other times I was a little lost. The author seemed to ramble at times with philosophies that were lost on me. It never lasted long though, and thankfully, she would pull me back into her story. Having a daughter in college myself this story kind of suckered punched me, made me do some thinking. Not a five star book for me but definitely one I would recommend.
  • (3/5)
    My boyfriend absolutely loves this book, and considers it one of his favorites, but it falls a little short with me. I'm not the biggest fan of her writing, but I do think if talks about an important issue and she tells a good story. I enjoyed the first reading, but probably wouldn't re-visit it.