The author of Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (2005) searches for the root of her unbridled anger.
In the prologue, Zailckas sums up the impetus behind her second memoir: “I set out to write an objective book about modern remedies for anger and I ended up with an achingly personal account of why I went looking for remedies in the first place.” The story begins at the author’s low point—fresh from a break-up overseas—and quickly sweeps the reader into her desperate search for acceptance and compassion from a family that had rarely shown either. Her rocker ex-boyfriend—whom she humorously nicknames “the Lark” (“he shared the bird's talents for both singing and flight”)—was not the cause of her rage, however, but rather the entry point that allowed Zailckas to delve deeper into the anger issues that have long haunted her. While the author’s brutal depictions of rage—regularly directed at loved ones and strangers alike—often leaves the reader feeling slightly disgusted by the her egregious behavior, these strong feelings are the result of the reader's investment in the outcome. When Zailckas's therapist asked her to construct a personal ad, the author was unsure how to proceed: “Stunted rage-a-phobe seeks mother substitute for validation eternal? Must enjoy impassivity, mixed messages, and occasional blasts of displaced aggression?” Her sharp sense of self-deprecation, while comically dark, passes far beyond the boundaries of humor into a terrain of frank, and often brutal, self-assessment. Throughout, Zailckas is keenly aware of her inability to cope with anger. While the trajectory of this anger shifts from her boyfriend to her family, with the help of her therapist, she eventually hones in on its true source—her mother. Yet as the reader soon learns, discovering the source of her anger is only the first small step toward ridding herself of the problem.
A harrowing tale of one woman's journey into the depths of her own psychosis.