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An Accidental Memoir

On a rainy Tuesday morning in 1996, Wendy Reed's car hydroplaned, crossed an interstate median, and crashed into an oncoming car, whose driver was killed. Though Reed and her son were unharmed and Reed initially described herself as "fine," in the months that followed she would be engulfed in a storm of guilt and recrimination, as well as jarring legal proceedings over the accident. In An Accidental Memoir, Reed, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, points the lens at herself and explores that accident and a succession of personal experiences through fact and fiction. Told from unusual perspectives and in highly figurative language, the stories draw on the Southern Gothic tradition of Flannery O'Connor and feature dark humor, flawed people, disastrous events, and moments of spiritual grace. Taken together, this collection of deliberately fragmented essays and short stories become a meditation on subjects such as work, family responsibilities, death, and raising a child.
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"By any measure, Wendy Reed has a compelling story to share. On May 28, 1996, her Mitsubishi Montero hydroplaned off I-65 at mile marker 251.7, striking an oncoming 1988 Camry. The author and her youngest child were uninjured, but the accident claimed the life of the other driver. If this book's power rested simply in the pathos of the situation, however, it wouldn't leave the deep impression it does. The real beauty is in the writing. There's nothing accidental about An Accidental Memoir -- it's a fantastic, moving expression of craft and insight." --Kirk Curnutt, author of Breathing Out the Ghost "There are not many people who would have the courage to tell this story -- and even fewer writers with the talent and integrity to pull it off. I am in awe of Wendy Reed." --Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize winning author "Memoirs address all kinds of scars, but few so real as this. Wendy Reed writes chillingly about how fast life can change, and end, on a piece of asphalt." --Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and bestselling author

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