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Not by Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life

Overview

One day as Samantha Dunn was leading her horse through the canyons of California, he inadvertently trampled her, nearly severing her leg.

In a life filled with risk-taking and injuries, this was the most serious accident yet. It spurred Dunn to question her inclination toward carelessness, and she learned that a pattern of accidents often indicates deeper issues bubbling below the surface. This last near-fatal episode was a wake-up call; she had been looking away, not only from ...

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Overview

One day as Samantha Dunn was leading her horse through the canyons of California, he inadvertently trampled her, nearly severing her leg.

In a life filled with risk-taking and injuries, this was the most serious accident yet. It spurred Dunn to question her inclination toward carelessness, and she learned that a pattern of accidents often indicates deeper issues bubbling below the surface. This last near-fatal episode was a wake-up call; she had been looking away, not only from her horse, who had shown clear signs of panic, but also from her complicated past and troubled marriage. Not by Accident follows the stages of Dunn's long and painful recovery, during which the emotional healing process proved even more challenging than the physical one.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Fitch
Samantha Dunn pulls no punches in this tough, witty and deeply personal memoir. . . . A beautiful, necessary book.
author of White Oleander
Darrin Strauss
Dunn has a real and heartbreaking story . . . and she tells it with extreme honesty, oceans of humor and, above all, brilliance.
author of Chang and Eng
Library Journal
These two engaging memoirs by California freelance journalists demonstrate how lives, family, and friends change after serious accidents. Thrown and trampled by her horse, Dunn (Failing Paris) survived with a badly fractured leg requiring extensive reconstructive surgery and the threat of future infection and amputation. As she convalesces, she candidly reviews her life and reflects on what it means to be accident-prone. Is this calamity not the first, but the most serious just a coincidence, or does it indicate something deeper that needs to be examined? Barely able to walk again, she takes up yoga, explores complementary therapies, and embarks on a path of emotional and physical healing. Dunn concludes that her accidents were an unconscious message telling her that she did not care enough about herself and her future. She returns to writing, divorces her husband, gets back on her horse (literally), and survives a second fall. Both active sports enthusiasts, Parker and her retired scientist-husband, Ralph, were planning to move to Colorado when he was knocked off his bicycle and paralyzed from the neck down. In a series of short essays that first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications, Parker candidly relates the fears and frustrations of learning to be a primary caregiver for a quadriplegic. Friends desert her, but colorful Momma Scott and her African American neighbors step in to lend emotional support. Two live-in personal attendants, an ex-con, and a Tibetan immigrant form an unconventional household centered on caring for Ralph and for one another. With humor, Parker spares no details describing the personal routines; the clashes of class, culture, and caregiving; and her delights in new friends and small pleasures. Both books are recommended for public libraries. Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Reflections on recovering from a near-fatal accident that proffers the literal and metaphorical bottom line "Get back on the horse." A horseback rider since childhood, fiction-writer Dunn (Failing Paris, not reviewed) had a riding accident at the age of 32 that left one leg virtually severed. Her recovery encompassed months of medical treatment, as well as physical, emotional, and spiritual therapy. For the most part, she held the reins of her recuperation. Although she had a good relationship with her medical doctor (who put a metal rod in her leg to hold it together), she leaned on friends, fellow writers, and her husband, a recovering drug user with his own struggles, to feed and nurture her. As she gained some mobility, she found a guru, who guided her in yoga practices, meditation, vegetarianism, and cold showers. Also helpful were a chiropractor, an Olympic wrestler turned personal trainer, a former Navy SEAL who taught martial arts, and a psychotherapist. Because of the high risk of infection, her medical doctor was horrified when she also enlisted the services of an acupuncturist. At one point, Dunn seized on the idea that she was prone to accidents-she'd had a string of them, although none as serious as this one. Research led her to theories about the causes of frequent accidents: demons, ADHD, inherent temperament, or a history of stress. Her mother and grandmother often quarreled during her childhood, and her own marriage was troubled, but she concludes that her inclination to hop on a horse and run away from confrontation does not make her accident-prone in the clinical sense. A major theme of her self-examination is her relationship with horses, especially Harley, the horsewho injured her leg. She finally returns to the stable to mount Harley and ride again, but no longer to run away. A lively and personally revealing tale of turning calamity into a life-changing tool, of particular interest to horse afficionados and people who suffer frequent injuries. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805065862
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/22/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Samantha Dunn was raised in northern New Mexico and spent years in Australia and France. Her novel Failing Paris was nominated for the PEN/West Award. She lives in southern California.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2002

    Superb introspective real life account

    In an isolated part of California, Samantha Dunn was leading her horse Harley across a creek when her steed accidentally stomped on her leg. The injury was severe enough to threaten her life as she suffered splintered bones, ripped muscles and torn veins. Samantha¿s luck changed when a passerby happened to find her. <P>While physically recuperating and going through various mental stages of recovery, Samantha reflected back on her three-decade plus life. She concludes that her long string of accidents are not really bad luck misfortunes, but something with much deeper underlying causes that make her ignore signs of potential trouble like her panic stricken horse that stepped on her. Eventually Samantha not only gets back on Harley, but she picks herself up personally as she now knows she is a good person with much too offer. <P>NOT BY ACCIDENT: RECONSTRUCTING A CARELESS LIFE is a great first hand account of recovering from a near-fatal accident that inspires the audience. Samantha Dunn learns that riding horses for pleasure is a lot different than riding to escape life. She concludes that life is too precious to carelessly destroy it. As Lou Costello once said ¿97% of all accidents occur to 3% of the people¿. Ms. Dunn encourages those 3% frequent accident victims to reflect on why this happens and how to live life fully, but not negligently. Besides animal lovers and repeat accident victims, readers who enjoy an uplifting didactic account will want to peruse this introspective nonfiction. <P>Harriet Klausner

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