Koren Zailckas
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Buy *Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood* by Koren Zailckas online

Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood
Koren Zailckas
368 pages
January 2006
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Bobby Blades' take on Smashed.

The author's memoir about a portion of her life spent drinking - mainly pre- and post-college years - probably resonates with a lot of young women. She talks about growing up in the Northeast, a normal girl in a normal family, and how she took those first forbidden sips. There was some drinking in high school, but it didn't really manifest itself until she went off to college.

The author is a fine writer and though parts of her tale tend to wander and end up saying little, it is a story artfully told. However, the biggest sham of this reveal is that the author - Koren Zailckas - never says she was an alcoholic but that she was an alcohol abuser. This is a ridiculous statement and just about makes her entire book a useless exercise.

That is similar to an addict saying, "I can stop anytime I want to stop. I just don't want to." When you drink everyday and end up in blackouts, in the rooms of strange men, vomiting in toilets and hungover, you're an alcoholic. You can call it alcohol abuse, but you are an alcoholic. This woman could no more stop drinking than she could stop breathing. And yet she avers otherwise. Here is what she writes in her introduction:

"I am not an alcoholic. As far as I can tell, I have no family history of alcoholism. I am not physically addicted to drinking, and I don't have the genetically based reaction to alcohol that addiction counselors call 'a disease.' In the nine years that I drank, I never hid bottles or drank alone, and I never spent a night in a holding cell awaiting DUI charges. Today, one glass of wine would not propel me into the type of bender where I'd wind up drinking whole bottles. While I have been to AA meetings, I don't go to them."
It doesn't matter whether alcoholism ran in her family. She drank everyday in proportions incredibly out of whack in terms of what a normal person might drink. It's odd she would say this. She rearranges the definitions but, by any definition, this person was addicted to drinking. It's almost as if she's willing to talk about her life but not willing to admit to being an addict. Strange.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2010

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