Synopses & Reviews
This irreverent, tragicomic, astoundingly articulate memoir about going blind and growing up illuminates both the author's reality and our own.
On his 18th birthday, Ryan Knighton was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a congenital, progressive disease marked by night-blindness, tunnel vision and, eventually, total blindness. In this penetrating, nervy memoir, which ricochets between meditation and black comedy, Knighton tells the story of his fifteen-year descent into blindness while incidentally revealing the world of the sighted in all its phenomenal peculiarity.
Knighton learns to drive while unseeing; has his first significant relationship with a deaf woman; navigates the punk rock scene and men's washrooms; learns to use a cane; and tries to pass for seeing while teaching English to children in Korea. Stumbling literally and emotionally into darkness, into love, into couch-shopping at Ikea, into adulthood, and into truce if not acceptance of his identity as a blind man, his writerly self uses his disability to provide a window onto the human condition. His experience of blindness offers unexpected insights into sight and the other senses, culture, identity, language, our fears and fantasies.
Cockeyed is not a conventional confessional. Knighton is powerful and irreverent in words and thought and impatient with the preciousness we've come to expect from books on disability. Readers will find it hard to put down this wild ride around their everyday world with a wicked, smart, blind guide at the wheel.
"Knighton, who teaches at Capilano College in Vancouver, started going blind in his teens, and in this hilarious and unsentimental yet moving memoir, he tells what it was like to lose his eyesight. He was born in the early 1970s, grew up in British Columbia and by 1987 was showing signs of poor vision. He began losing his sight early enough that the time frames of his coming-of-age and his coming-of-blindness overlap. Milestones such as his first driving experiences and his first relationships with girls, which would have been ordinary for other teenagers, were anything but for him. As he moved into adulthood, he also moved further into sightlessness, yet he turns the story into something so bracing that it reads like a travelogue you can't wait to know where he's going next, whether it's to attend college in Vancouver, teach English in South Korea or get married. Wit can be a weapon, but can also be a kind of walking stick; being so gifted clearly guided Knighton long before anything began to happen to his eyes. Luckily for his readers, he was also gifted with a different kind of care and clear-sightedness, never stumbling into the maudlin. His book is an invitation to take a journey that no reader should refuse, to see life through another lens. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Cockeyed provides an unexpectedly wry view of a life that twisted into the extraordinary." Boston Globe
"Engaging and insightful, literally shedding light on a dark and misunderstood condition." Kirkus Reviews
"Knighton's talent shines on every page of this feisty, bittersweet memoir....[A] compelling, sturdy read." Entertainment Weekly
"Knighton sees the world in tiny circles. He writes his memoir in this way, too. The whole becomes a powerful read." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Blindness isn't normally something to laugh about. But Ryan Knighton's memoir...is one of those rare exceptions where it's OK. The author encourages it." Dallas Morning News
Oliver Sacks meets David Sedaris this irreverent, tragicomic, politically incorrect, astoundingly articulate memoir about going blind and growing up illuminates not just the author's reality, but the reader's own.
This irreverent, tragicomic, politically incorrect, astoundingly articulate memoir about going blindand growing upilluminates not just the author's reality, but the reader's.
About the Author
Ryan Knighton was born in Langley, BC, but lives in East Vancouver without regrets. His first full-length collection of poetry and photography, Swing in the Hollow, was published by Anvil Press in 2001. Knighton teaches literature in the Department of English at Capilano College. Oh, and he's blind.