MLA Platinum Award Press Release

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 by Ryan Knighton X
Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2006, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 288 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
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" articles
  • 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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hamnet
    Hamnet
    by Maggie O'Farrell
    William Shakespeare's name is never used in Hamnet — a conspicuous absence around which Maggie...
  • Book Jacket: After the Last Border
    After the Last Border
    by Jessica Goudeau
    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the number of displaced people around the world is ...
  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    Crossings
    by Alex Landragin
    Crossings is a beautiful, if slightly messy, time-bending debut. It reads like a vampire novel, sans...
  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Migrations
    by Charlotte McConaghy

    An instant bestseller set on the brink of catastrophe, for readers of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

The the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.