Smashed, by Koren Zailckas, is a memoir of the author’s “drunken girlhood.” It was an interesting experience for me to read it. My history with alcohol between the ages of 16 and 22 is here in this blog. Basically I drank too much too often. Whereas I sought out solitude, though, Zailckas sought out company and so reading the book showed me what I might have been like in a parallel universe.
She remembers her experiences very vividly, except for when she doesn’t, and she describes them beautifully, maybe with an over-abundance of metaphors, but beautifully. It is most certainly a cautionary tale for young drinkers. She got hurt, badly, many times, and like me I think she’s just lucky that she survived.
Zailckas says she’s not an alcoholic, yet the only way she’s found to cope with alcohol is to abstain. She says in the book that she’s gone to AA meetings, but she doesn’t describe any or report actually going, just walking past two. It seems there is a school of thought that labeling someone alcoholic will impede or prevent that person from seeking help. That may be, but would labeling someone as having cancer impede or prevent that person from seeking help? No one wants to be alcoholic.
Smashed doesn’t describe any program of recovery or way to recover. If Zailckas has recovered, that’s great. Letting young women know that their dangerous drinking is common is also, in a way, great. But this book doesn’t point the way toward any kind of happy ending, even if the author experiences one. I would urge anyone who identifies with the drinking described in Smashed to seek out AA.