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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Author of Smashed to visit URI Memoir details a drunken girlhood

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KINGSTON, R.I -- April 20, 2005 -- When she was 14, Koren Zailckas took her first sip of alcohol from her friendís parents well-stocked liquor cabinet.

From that first sip, Zailckas leads readers of her memoir, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, on an unflinching journey to alcohol abuse, before, during, and after college. There are milestones along the way: alcohol poisoning at 16, a blackout sexual experience at 19, waking up in an unfamiliar New York City apartment at 22.

The 24-year-old author who quit drinking in 2003 will answer questions at a reading and book signing at the University of Rhode Islandís Kingston campus on Thursday, April 28. The event, which is sponsored by URIís Womenís Studies Program, will be held in the URI Libraryís Galanti Lounge at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Zailckas will speak earlier in the day at Brown University.

Although Zailckasí story is a personal one, the author convinces her readers that it is also the story of thousands of girls who arenít alcoholics yet, but who use binge drinking as a substitute for courage and a camouflage for shyness. She also suggests that our culture plays a roleóone of tolerance and even encouragement.

According to published reports, recent research shows that early adolescent girls are drinking earlier and more often than boys.

Smashed can serve as a warning to parents. Zailckas appeared to be the least likely candidate to become a problem drinker. She was a good student in school and at Syracuse University. She was an active skier, a ballerina, talented writer, and an equestrian. Her abuse of booze was largely hidden from her parents who only learned of it when they read the proofs of her book.