Excerpt from Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Cockeyed

A Memoir

By Ryan Knighton

Cockeyed
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2006,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2007,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Pontiac Rex

Not seeing something, not seeing an indication of
something, does not lead automatically to the conclusion
that there is nothing.

—Hans Blix, The Guardian, June 2003

Unbeknownst to my family, my physician, or the motor vehicle branch, by the age of seventeen, I was going blind behind the wheel of my father's 1982 Pontiac Acadian. Feel free to shudder. Other soon-to-be-blind people are on the road today enjoying a similar story, only they've still got some damage to do. Maybe you'll meet one of them at an intersection.

Driving beckoned me the moment I turned sixteen, but my parents thought I'd benefit first from a driver's education course. Or two. Maybe three. I was that hopeless. Not much of what I learned remains in my brain, but I do remember my teacher, a greasy-haired man who insisted I call him Buddy.

For several months, Buddy picked me up once a week in his school's red Ford Taurus. The car was equipped with an extra brake on the passenger side. Buddy liked to punch it through the floor when frightened. Pocked and battered, the car's condition suggested the nifty Siamese brake did little more than relieve the pressure in Buddy's jaw. Nobody could say he was impatient with his students, though, and nobody could say he looked at the world from his car with anything other than safety on his mind. Oh, and ass. A large helping of ass weighed on his mind, too.

When he wasn't advising how to make a generous turn, Buddy gazed out the passenger window, as if avoiding eye contact with his job. Who wouldn't? It probably offered relief from spotting all the gory mishaps I could have steered us into. Some afternoons I could tell that the man was a sack of adrenaline and nerves. As he spoke he'd manically smear his hair across the bald spots on his head. His thoughts flip-flopped at dizzying speeds, all given voice, jumping from death to sex and back again, shaped by a stream of consciousness Freud would have enjoyed fishing in. The sidewalks and parking lots we passed provided his material.

"Holy mother of god! Did you see that honey in the elastic jeans? Slow down. The one going into SAAN's back there? What a butt. Jesus that was close! You gotta shoulder check, watch your blind spot. What an a-ass! It makes me—just pull to the right a bit so you don't ride the yellow line. That's right, a little more, don't be afraid of your side of the road. How does she get into those pants? What about blood flow, eh? Signal first! They're like paint."

Sometimes I couldn't tell if Buddy was testing me in his own perverse way. Did his questions measure my awareness? Did the asses tell him if I noticed anything other than the car in front of me? Good drivers, he'd declare, observe everything around them. Everything. To underline his point, he'd give an extra wipe of his hair. Sometimes I nodded and muttered something affirmative. I tried to demonstrate that I'd spared some of my abundant driverly attention for the ass-scape. "Yes, a very different butt from that one back on Fraser Highway, Buddy, quite different." None of this made me a more attentive driver in the end.

Buddy's final report was unambiguous. He recommended another course before I bothered failing the driver's test. It took a lot of practice with my father until my parents felt everybody was safe. Somehow I passed my first road test with only a few demerits, which was unfortunate.

Because of all this I came a year late to driving. My license, however, which I earned shortly before my seventeenth birthday, came a year earlier than my diagnosis with RP. The math is still chilling. I drove for thirteen danger-filled months, practically blind and legally reckless, unaware of what I was missing. And I mean barely missing.

From Cockeyed: A Memoir by Ryan Knighton, pages 22-35.  Copyright Ryan Knighton.  All rights reserved.  Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Public Affairs.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and ambitious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.