Car Crash by Lech Blaine review – a bruisingly insightful memoir of two wreckages

Car Crash by Lech Blaine review – a bruisingly insightful memoir of two wreckages

The Guardian

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A tragic accident and a lifetime of trauma fuel this candid, thoughtful debut and examination of our tired ideas about manhood

When Lech Blaine was arrested for drink driving as a teenager, he went in search of a diagnosis. For why else would a survivor of a fatal, community-shattering car crash – “the unblemished front seat passenger” – get himself murderously hammered and race off into the night? Surely there was some undiagnosed culprit, some lurking pathology. “I think you climbed behind the wheel of a car for much the same reason you jumped into the passenger seat a year ago,” his GP countered. “To prove you are a man.”

Blaine’s memoir and debut, Car Crash, is a study in Australia’s larrikin brand of toxic masculinity, with all its flamboyant insouciance and cast-iron silences. How can you grieve when you’ve been taught to stare down heartbreak? How can you heal when you can’t admit you’re wounded? Car Crash is the tale of two wreckages: the first, a tragic overcorrection on a dark highway; the second, a lifetime in the making. For trauma is its own kind of collision: a snarl of cultural, community and self expectation; of pain and its public performance.

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