Koren Zailckas’s Smashed, is the compelling autobiography of a young woman, unable to cope with the demands of her developing adolescence, and finding solace in a decade of solid drinking. While the style may seem sensationalist, it would be wrong to pin it down as that of a naïve American.
Koren first experiences alcohol at fourteen, when on another bored night in small-town America, the pressure of an unsteady friendship leads to experimentation with the contents of her friend’s parent’s liquor cabinet.
As Koren continues to get routinely smashed and to black out, she surpasses even English drinking expectations. She binges until black specks from her shredding stomach lining start to appear in her morning vomit.
This book focuses on the gender specific implications of drinking. Zailckas explains that “drinking confirms men’s gender role, whereas it diminishes women’s. We are meant to believe that men who drink heavily are men’s men… a girl’s drinking makes her less feminine”. Moreover, in Koren’s social circles, date-rape and other aggression seem perpetually prevalent.
The book, though not a classic, is enjoyable, interesting, and extremely cathartic.