Memoir about beer and binge drinking worth picking up

Tiffany Ciesicki

‘Smashed’ highlights the lows of drinking


Written by Koren Zailckas

Published by Penguin Books

Stater rating (out of five): ????

For so many students, college is a blurry haze of parties, bars and beer with classes, homework and exams squeezed somewhere in between.

All guided under the conception this is what these years are all about. Nights that begin with pounding beers and raising glasses are the nights that will complete this memorable experience, the nights when so often there isn’t much remembered at all.

This has been the tradition for years and no amount of debate over the hazards or eerie stories of overdoses and accidents will ever put an end to it.

Koren Zailckas stops to question the normality of this lifestyle in her book, Smashed.

At 23, she stops to look back on her life of booze, buzzes and beer. In doing so she sees how a few curious sips of Southern Comfort at age 14 led her to the wretched hangovers, blackouts and mornings leaning over a toilet bowl she came to endure for so many years. She looks back on how much drinking has cost her over the years and wonders when the innocent fun turned into self-abuse and how she never noticed.

Zailckas never experienced much of anything out of the ordinary for so many college girls just like her, any of whom could surely write a book filled with similar tales. What sets her apart, however, is that she actually wrote it. She put all her blurry nights and drunken mishaps onto pages for the world to read.

Throughout Smashed, Zailckas looks back on her years and experiences with incredible detail. At times the details and insights she adds to her stories were a bit overwhelming. The story could have been simpler through some parts. However, cutting such detail from other parts would have taken away the uniqueness of her work.

Zailckas shares all from her first sip to her first blackout and through her numerous tries to cut back or learn to simply drink “normally.” She didn’t give up the first time she got sick, the first time she blacked out, not even when she woke up in a hospital gown with no memory of the night before after having her stomach pumped at 16.

Years later, after waking up in a strange apartment on Fifth Avenue, something shifted. Though Zailckas realized she had waken up in a strange place before, similarly with little or no memory of what happened the night before, this seemed different. She said in her book that it wasn’t much different, the Fifth Avenue apartment and the strange guys who lived there were not so far from the frat houses she has passed out in before, nor did the brothers in those houses provide anymore safety than the Fifth Avenue guys. Something about this night, and this incident was what provoked her to give it all up.

It should be recognized that the book is not all about getting others to change their hard partying ways.

If reading this book alone drains all the fun out of anyone’s night, then perhaps it was a good thing that they read it.

Except for a few short paragraphs at the end, she does not in any direct way push abstinence on her reader.

However, it will appeal to young girls and women especially, if not as a lesson, then for interest alone.

There is a lot of truth in Zailckas’ story and most around her age will find themselves relating to one incident or another.

This book should be highly credited for at least providing an opportunity to look at the normality of drinking in a different light from someone just like everyone else, who did only what everyone else was doing.

Contact ALL correspondent Tiffany Ciesicki at [email protected].