Author Samantha Dunnís writing takes a sharp departure from her previous published works, including Failing Paris (a finalist for the PEN West Fiction prize), in her memoir Not By
Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life. Not By Accident is a deeply personal look at Dunnís experience with tragedy and its affect on her life, the people she loves and her hopes for the future.
Dunn developed a passion for horses at a very early age. Horseback riding gave her a sense of freedom from the realities of her everyday existence growing up in a home with her mother and grandmother, whose only form of communication seems to be bickering and belittling one another. As with most children growing up in a dysfunctional home, Dunnís family role is that of attempted peacemaker, while her own emotional needs go unfulfilled.
Ironically, Dunnís tragedy results from the very thing she loves most when her horse steps on her leg, nearly severing it. Dunnís life is almost certainly saved when she is quickly discovered by a neighbor who responds to her screams for help. Thus begin the rigorous attempts to save Dunnís leg, and life, through all possible traditional and nontraditional medical means.
Faced with the realization that she is leading a self-destructive life, Dunn utilizes the months spent in bed recuperating to analyze the lifestyle and relationship choices she had made. Dunnís self-analysis demands that she explore long-buried, sometimes painful, memories in order to find answers to the questions that haunt her; answers which just may save her life.