Smashed: A review

Glebe St Vincent de Paul is the next best thing to a library. My suburb is full of nerds; students, teachers, activists and thinkers. HencSmashede, the Vinnies here is a gold mine for second-hand books.

That’s how, for a mere $3, I wound up with Koren Zailckas’ 2005 memoir ‘Smashed’.

This is like Bridget Jones’ Diary except the protagonist isn’t trying to be funny. Instead she talks about the darkness of abusive drinking, social anxiety and loneliness, coupled with romantic yearning and rejection.

Zailckas is a year younger than me which is why so much of what she writes resonates so deeply in terms of cultural references. While it’s set in America and details her journey from high school, college, the sorority system, and the early days of post-graduate employment in New York, there is a sense of de ja vu about the experiences she describes.

The way she uses alcohol to fit in.

The way she uses alcohol to bond with female friends.

The way she uses alcohol to fuel sexual encounters that she would’ve otherwise been too shy to pursue.

The way she uses alcohol to assuage anxiety and depression until her life is a rollercoaster loop of ups and downs.

The scary thing is that most women would relate to this book, in the same way they relate to Bridget Jones’ Diary. With Bridget, we laugh at her antics, her loungeroom singing and vodka swilling. With Zailckas, we reflect on our own dark moments on dark nights.

Alcohol is entrenched in Australian society. Drinking for so many of us isn’t about drinking water for hydration or tea for calm; it’s about wine, cocktails, Champagne, beer, whiskey and gin. Alcohol is like a friend who comes everywhere with us, egging us on to stupidity and then sneaking off when the damage is done.

So many friendships rely on alcohol to exist. Without the soothing effects of Pinot Gris or the loosening effects of beer, conversation circles and stops like a blocked drain.

It’s a concept worth examining and Zailckas explores it in crystalline detail in one long ‘me too’ memoir.

What’s your favourite memoir?







1 comment on “Smashed: A review

  1. Thanks for the tip! Think I’ll hunt this down from the library Em. While I’ve never been to Rome or even relocated to another country without speaking the language, I loved Penny Green’s When In Rome, because she talks about how she’d just bought a really expensive new mattress when she decided to quit her high flying PR job and move to Rome to waitress. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d do! Highly recommend 😉

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