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.
Author Dawn Garish
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