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


The red shape flashed, disappeared from view, and then lit in me the sharp recognition that I was about to meet some kind of consequence, probably a loud and painful type. The view immediately brightened. The periphery of the narrow, residential street opened up, as did the surprised expression on my face. Fast-moving cars surrounded me, all of them motoring at a right angle to my own. I was about to spear the panel of a cube van, two cars were about to t-bone the driver's side of mine, and some other vehicles, the ones out my passenger window, looked like they were fleeing the scene. All I could do was watch in horror and awe as I rocketed across four lanes of traffic.

What to do? Brake? Speed up? Combinations? Time lingers more than it should in circumstances like this. It hung around in my car, making more of itself, piling on, the feeling of its dead weight slowing me down, drawing out the drama of expectation and allowing me to witness each potential calamity in slow motion until, eventually, I arrived on the other side, astonished and safe.

Not one car had careened or locked its brakes as I'd crossed the street. Not one car had touched another car. Not a single person had been hurt. It must have looked beautiful from the sidewalk, as if I'd divined a pause, a perfect rest in the busy traffic, then cut through, effortless and smooth. A fish in a stream.

I wanted to puke. Immediately I pulled over and parked on the side of the road until the panic and nausea dissolved. What was I supposed to do now? Emergency lights, I thought, that's what they're called, emergency lights. I flicked them on. They didn't help. I got out and ran back to the intersection to look for what I'd done. It was daft, but something in me wanted to see if my accident left some kind of trace. Not a thing remained. Cars slipped by in their usual way and the stop sign across the street declared what I should have done. Nobody waited to chastise me. Nobody demanded I apologize. It was as if the accident had never happened. So I took my cue and agreed to keep it that way. A promise was made, instead, a promise to be more careful, to be less hasty, to be focused, to be happy with whatever song is playing in my cassette deck. Back into the car I climbed, turned off the emergency lights, and pulled away, nonchalant as a poacher with his catch.

My second accident happened some months later. It even earned me a title. All hail the Rock King of Langley.

The few dwindling back roads of my hometown are darkened by thick stands of trees. When I was a teenager, you wouldn't find much out there other than turkey farms, Christmas tree nurseries, houses set far into their fields, and the occasional business that surprised the side of the road with a few muddy parking spots. You might find a decaying John Deere dealership out there and a forgotten TV repair shop from the 1950s. That's about it. Gas stations were the only other oasis of light I remember seeing on a night drive. Like a good son should, I had just topped up my father's tank at one of those gas stations before I ascended my throne.

Leaving the station, I nosed the car to the edge of the road and checked for oncoming traffic. Black to the left, black to the right. The country road was moonlit and empty. I flicked my turn signal on and dumped the clutch. The engine accelerated, its hum grew louder, then an alien crunch and grind overtook my ears. Up went the car. The front popped a wheelie and dropped, as if the Acadian had pounced on some massive, unsuspecting prey. I wasn't moving anymore.

From my strange new perspective, I stared up at the clear evening sky instead of down the clear, open road. I took a quiet moment to tally how many un-good things had just transpired. When I turned the key, the car started again. I surged with relief. But easing forward wasn't easy. It wasn't even possible. The car sputtered and stalled. Down in front, little revealed itself other than what I thought was the road I should be driving home. What I'd heard and seen didn't make sense, so I got out, and my first step took more leg than usual.

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

Sailor Twain
by Mark Siegel

Published Mar. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. 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.