“A love story of sorts”
Struck: A Husband’s Memoir of Trauma and Triumph
by Douglas Segal
Prospect Park Books, 2018
reviewed by Seana Graham
In October of 2012, actress Susan Segal was driving home on L.A.’s Hollywood Boulevard after picking up her daughter Alyce from school when a runaway dump truck rolled into the path of a bus, forcing the bus driver to swerve. The bus ended up careening into Susan’s car, causing massive, nearly fatal injury to her. Her daughter got out of the car physically unharmed. A stranger lent Alyce a cell phone and she called her father at home. This is where Douglas Segal’s part of the story begins.
The origins of this memoir are retained in its form. Doug soon realized he would need to use some type of mass communication to keep Susan’s countless friends and fans up to date. Many of them knew of the accident right away, as the wreck had been horrendous enough to be televised. That night Doug put up a brief post on Susan’s Facebook page, and faithfully updated it throughout her recovery. The posts were shared well beyond their own personal sphere and later some of these strangers would let them know how much his posts had meant to them.
For many who read our story, we were like fictional characters in an ongoing serial, but at the same time, it was impossible to ignore that we were real people, people just like them, and that is what connected and moved them.
Collected in book form, the posts may lack the suspense that those initial readers must have anxiously experienced. But Struck is augmented and strengthened by chapters that alternate with those original entries and are collectively titled “The Unposted”, mentioning other aspects of what the Segals were going through at the time. We get glimpses of how the rest of the family coped as well as how Susan and Douglas met and their life together before the catastrophe. Sometimes Doug ponders the significance of the event. At others, he describes what it was like to do his professional work in the film industry while attending to Susan and being the sole caretaker of their children during the months that she was out of action.
Struck’s dedication reads: “For Susan: I never wrote you a show, but I did write you a book.” This is more significant than it might at first sound, because Susan had no memory of much of her experience, including the accident itself. It takes some time for her to even understand what has happened to her, and brain trauma leads to some delusional thinking during parts of her recovery (which provide the memoir with some of its occasional funny moments.) By keeping such a faithful chronicle, Doug is able to give his wife a detailed record of what happened to both her and her family during that time, as well as of her own courage and determination.
The Segals are friends of my sister and now live down the street from her. The first time I met them, Doug was cooking dinner while Susan was reassuring my sister, who was having surgery herself the next day. Alyce walked in at one point, talking about her evening plans. Even Bruce, the lively little dog who makes his way into the Segal family during the course of the story was there. I mention it because it was a calm and happy evening and there was nothing to indicate to me, a stranger, what the family had previously endured. It was a reminder to me that we should strive to treat each other gently, because we can’t always judge from appearances just what people have been through.
Seana Graham is the book review editor at Escape Into Life. She also reviews for the biography website Simply Charly. She attempts to keep up with her various blogs, including Confessions of Ignorance, where she tries to learn a little bit more about the many things she does not know. You can find links to many of her short stories at her blog Story Dump. She has co-authored a trivia book about her native Southern California. Santa Cruz Noir, a recent title from Akashic Press, features a story of hers about the city in which she currently resides.
Get Struck at Prospect Park Books
Check out the Segals’ extremely upbeat book trailer!