Carol Trehorne’s only child, Max, is in ICU with severe burns. Max, a performance artist, has set himself alight. He recovers but it becomes clear that he is planning further performances that will put him at risk of serious injury or death. Carol, a single parent and a GP in a busy suburban practice, is worried that her son is not the genius his friends think he is, but might be on drugs or going psychotic.
As she discusses her concerns with her son’s psychiatrist, she wonders if her past behaviour, in particular her relationship with the adventurous and anti-social Jack, has influenced Max’s determination to use his body as a site of violent art in the pursuit of revelation. Carol cannot accept that Max’s self-harm will have any effect other than to add to the meaningless violence in the world.
The novel Accident raises questions about what kind of life is worth living and what death is worth dying. It explores the different responses artists and scientists can have to violence and self-destructive behaviour, and throws into sharp relief the difficulties parents face when their children make decisions that appear incomprehensible.
Accident is Dawn Garisch’s sixth published novel; she has also had a collection of poetry, a non-fiction work and a memoir published. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines. She has had a short play and short film produced, and has written for television and newspapers. Three of her novels have been published in the UK.
Dawn Garisch is boldly imaginative and thought provoking in this riveting account of a performance artist whose shocking acts challenge us to question important social issues. The novel is also a story of a mother and son relationship that walks a tightrope of when to hold on and when to let go.
This is Garisch’s best novel yet, totally absorbing and it is the most enthralling book I’ve ever read about the mother/son relationship.
Accident raises many interesting questions but makes no prescriptions on any fronts, it’s up to the reader to sort out the issues for themselves. The shocking ending will stay with you for a very long time.
Disturbing, worrying, even horrifying in places, this novel of supreme imagination and creative power left me drained but completely exhilarated at the end. I recommend it highly.
The author asks a pertinent question in this well-written book: to what extent as a parent are you answerable to society for your child’s actions? Thought-provoking ending.