Fury: A Memoir

Fury: A Memoir

4.5 2
by Koren Zailckas

Read Koren Zailckas's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.

The author of the iconic New York Times bestseller Smashed undertakes a quest to confront her own anger.

In the years following the publication of her landmark memoir, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Koren Zailckas stays sober and relegates

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Read Koren Zailckas's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.

The author of the iconic New York Times bestseller Smashed undertakes a quest to confront her own anger.

In the years following the publication of her landmark memoir, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Koren Zailckas stays sober and relegates binge drinking to her past. But a psychological legacy of repression lingers-her sobriety is a loose surface layer atop a hard- packed, unacknowledged rage that wreaks havoc on Koren emotionally and professionally. When a failed relationship leads Koren back to her childhood home, she sinks into emotional crisis-writer's block, depression, anxiety. Only when she begins to apply her research on a book about anger to the turmoil of her own life does she learn what denial has cost her. The result is a blisteringly honest chronicle of the consequences of anger displaced and the balm of anger discovered. Readers who recognized themselves or someone they love in the pages of Smashed will identify with Koren's life-altering exploration and the necessity of exposing anger's origins in order to flourish in love and life as an adult. Combining sophisticated sociological research with a dramatic and deeply personal story that grapples boldly with identity and family, Fury is a dazzling work by a young writer at the height of her powers that is certain to touch a cultural nerve.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Zailckas, who tackled her teenage binge drinking in Smashed, delivers an intriguing and often heartbreaking follow-up on uncovering--and embracing--her anger. The project began as a scholarly examination on the way Americans approach anger, but morphed, in the four years Zailckas spent writing it, into something deeply personal: an examination of why she always denied her own feelings of rage. Everything comes to a head after she returns to her parents' Massachusetts home after following her then-boyfriend, Eamon, to England, where the relationship quickly soured. Zailckas returns home and sinks into a deep depression, which only heightens her writer's block, and sends her on a short-lived homeopathy kick. She begins therapy and starts to chip away at years' worth of emotional denial and pent-up feelings that came from living with a family where "anger was off-limits because it tap into everybody's fear of inadequacy and imperfection." Zailckas is at her most blisteringly honest when she's trying to wrap her head around her complex and often-strained relationship with her mother. But despite the liberal doses of academic quotes, Zailckas steps out from behind the shield of her intellect and confronts her emotions head-on, even when it hurts. (Sept. 7)
Library Journal - BookSmack!
After the success of her earlier memoir, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Zailckas struggles with maintaining equilibrium in her relationships becuase she is fearful of releasing the full force of her feelings. Fury chronicles her efforts to uncover the sources of her suppressed ire and discover ways to express it before it kills again. Zailckas relies heavily on reconstructed conversations with sympathetic therapists and apparently unsympathetic family members as well as extensive references to psychological literature in her journey toward the healthy (for her!) expression of her anger.What I'm Telling My Friends: Be careful around Zailckas, or you'll wind up in her next book, and you won't like it. Seriously, this reminded me how much power the holder of the pen (keyboard?) wields. Therese Purcell Nielsen, "Memoir Short Takes," Booksmack! 10/7/10
Jessica Ferri

Though its title suggests volcanic rage, Koren Zalickas's second memoir, Fury, is really about the struggle to access her anger after a lifetime of repression. The epigraph quotes Emily Dickinson: "Anger as soon as fed is dead -- Tis starving makes it fat." When her British indie-rocker boyfriend dumps her after weeks of bickering, she flees their home in England and arrives safely (but not so soundly) at her parents' home. Initially, she sets out to write a book about different techniques for anger management. A list of remedies attempted include, in no particular order: Homeopathy, Chakras, Psychoanalysis, garden-variety therapy, life-coaching, chain-smoking, banging a toy drum, beating a pillow, group therapy, meditation, Reiki, and Yoga. (Alcohol is sensibly absent; Zalickas's first memoir, Smashed, chronicled her binge drinking). But in researching strong emotions, Zalickas realizes she's unable to articulate her own. Her therapist, Alice, questions her about her family's relationship to anger, and the floodgates open.

Zalickas's exhaustive play-by-play of her daily activities makes Fury read more like a diary than a finessed memoir, leaving little room to make a specific statement on anger and women's relationship to it. Still, albeit somewhat clumsily, the book finds its purpose more than halfway through when Zalickas realizes she used her boyfriend as a scapegoat for her anger at her parents, particularly her mother. The difficulty of their relationship is evident. In response to a pregnant woman who comes to her group therapy to insure she won't contaminate her fetus with negative thoughts, Zalickas writes, "It struck me as a nice thought . . . I mean, whose mother was that considerate?" This is perhaps meant to be funny, but it speaks volumes to the tension in her relationship with her own mother, who once told her, "If you get angry like that out there in the real world outside of this house, people will lock you away." So Zalickas avoids expressing angry feelings, holding her fury inside until it explodes in spurts -- leading her family to believe she has an "anger problem." In one particularly painful passage, Zalickas suffers a miscarriage at home and finds little support -- even some disdain -- from her mother and sister. While justifiably upset, her response is nowhere near out-of-control, considering this is only one glaring example of the many hurts and upsets that shaped her. Given her reaction, a more appropriate title for this memoir might be "Repressed."

While the book could end with a group hug, thankfully it doesn't. Zalickas acknowledges the storm of emotion and misunderstanding that sits beneath any domestic surface, and this is refreshing. There is no forgiveness or clearing of the air, despite her attempts at reconciliation. The ultimate revelation, ushered in by the birth of her daughter, is about tolerance. Zalickas vows that her child "will be free of the legacy of anger, repression, narcissism, self-sabotage, and abandonment" that she felt. "I want to have the presence of mind to see her not as a version of my grandmother, my mother, or myself, but rather for the person she inherently is and will be." Though this may be easier said than done, Zalickas has ended her journey with wisdom that feels real -- and more importantly, earned.

--Jessica Ferri

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 5.15(h) x 8.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Koren Zailckas is the author of the memoir Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, which appeared on ten national bestseller lists and spent twenty weeks on the The New York Times bestseller list. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and daughter.

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