Car Crash: A Memoir

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A heart-soaring act of literary bravery where the ongoing cost of experience is exposed in every note-perfect sentence. This is a profound reflection on the deafening soul noise heard by a beautiful group of young friends fated to live the rest of their lives with the silence of the dead. Some books just have to be written. And some books just have to be read.’ —Trent Dalton

Lech Blaine was just seventeen when he was in a crash that killed his best friends and changed his life.

On an evening in 2009, seven teenage boys piled into a car to go to a party. They never arrived. The driver – who was not drunk or high – made a routine error and then overcorrected. The vehicle flew off the road. One passenger died on impact. Others were flung from the car. Lech walked away uninjured. In the aftermath, two more died in hospital and one was left disabled, in an incident that convulsed their rural community.

Crippled by guilt, Lech turned to social media, cultivating a persona as the ultimate ‘grateful survivor’. Over time, he spiralled into risk-taking and depression. His public bravado fell away as he tried to accept how an accident – one wretched error of youth and inexperience – had changed the trajectory of so many lives.

How do we grieve in an age of social media? How does tragedy shape a community? And how does a boy on the cusp of manhood develop a sense of self when his world has exploded?

This stunning memoir pulls no punches. It marks Lech Blaine as a writer to watch.

‘Scarifying and unforgettable, Car Crash is a story of carnage and lifelong consequences – not just from a single, sudden catastrophe but from the long, slow cataclysm of masculine confusion. A brave and unsettling account.’ —Tim Winton

‘I began this book with my guts in my mouth. Then, as I read on, I winced with recognition, I laughed a lot and my heart gradually broke open. It's odd to talk about “talent” when a book covers such sensitive, sad subject matter, but the truth is that Blaine has it. There are strong sentences, clarity of intent and tone, wicked one-liners and a mastery of metaphor. This book is for everyone – it truly captures something of "modern Australia" in a tenderly told story of one young man's tumultuous coming-of-age.’ —Bri Lee

‘ Car Crash is a clear-eyed, bruising and tender account of how the moments that thrust you into adulthood can take place in seconds. Lech Blaine’s journalism has long made me suspect he’s one of the best writers of his generation. Car Crash confirms it, without a doubt.’ —Ben Law