Zailckas, Koren 1981(?)-
ZAILCKAS, Koren 1981(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1981. Education: Syracuse University, B.A., 2002. Hobbies and other interests: Photography.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as an advertising assistant at Men's Journal.
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (memoir), Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Koren Zailckas chronicles her nine-year high-school and college career of binge drinking, blackouts, date rape and other unwanted sex, and brushes with suicide in her 2005 memoir Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood. The book focuses on Zailckas's experiences at Syracuse University, in particular within the social life surrounding the Greek system, which she claimed accepted and even encouraged her drinking behavior. Zailckas told U.S. News & World Report interviewer Alex Kingsbury that it was only when she left "the insulated college campus" that she was able to realize that, in her words, "alcohol was running underneath every horrible thing I'd ever done or said." Zailckas attributes her abuse in part to liquor industry advertising and promotions aimed at young people, as well as to lax college policies. According to Harry Levins, in a review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Zailckas seems to have used alcohol as a crutch for her self-confidence," which the reviewer found "odd, given that she's bright, talented and … pretty."
The author also weaves frightening statistical information about widespread alcohol abuse among young girls into her own story. Beth Perry wrote in People that Zailckas focuses "less on the shock value of her experience than on how sadly common it is among her peers." Rebecca Traister, writing on Salon.com, felt that Zailckas does succeed in illustrating the self-esteem problems of many women, though she felt that "it is wishful thinking that one wrong turn or bad habit can keep us from being the self-confident, sexually mature, productive young women we believe we could have been." On the other hand, a Publishers Weekly contributor strongly recommended the book as a "valuable cautionary tale … written in poetic, nuanced prose."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Zailckas, Koren, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, December 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Smashed, p. 698.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2004, review of Smashed, p. 1042.
People, February 7, 2005, Beth Perry, review of Smashed, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, December 6, 2004, review of Smashed, p. 50.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 30, 2005, Harry Levins, review of Smashed.
Sunday Times (London, England), March 6, 2005, India Knight, review of Smashed.
U.S. News & World Report, March 14, 2005, Alex Kingsbury, interview with Zailckas, p. 21.
Village Voice, February 22, 2005, Rachel Kramer Bussel, review of Smashed.
Koren Zailckas Home Page, http://www.korenzailckas.com (April 17, 2005).
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (January 31, 2005), Rebecca Traister, review of Smashed.