COCKEYED by Ryan Knighton
Kirkus Star

COCKEYED

A Memoir

KIRKUS REVIEW

Intense personal reflections on how it feels to come of age and to go blind at the same time.

Canadian Knighton was 18 when diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative condition leading to total blindness. Today, some 15 years later, he is a poet, essayist, journalist and teacher (Literature and Writing/Capilano College, Vancouver) with about one percent of a functional retina remaining (the characteristic “tunnel vision” of his affliction has nearly passed). His memoir is one of initial rejection of his diagnosis, then stubborn resistance to the obvious deterioration of his vision and, eventually, acceptance not only of his “blinding” but its effect on the people he cares most about: his wife, Tracy, his family and his friends. The author doesn’t do a lot of wallowing; the narrative is fast-paced laced with a humor and irony that give it edge. Finally learning to use a blind person’s cane, for example, becomes a key transition point as Knighton soon amazes himself with the novel possibilities of “seeing” via the end of a stick. And in one instance, he unwittingly “stares” at a woman in a bar who becomes annoyed enough to approach him and complain, thus setting up an evening of near triumph—not only does he pass for a guy who can see, he actually picks her up, but then bungles the tryst. The pathos of the apparent suicide of his younger brother triggers a final acceptance of the author’s condition; his marriage follows shortly, wherein he finds that allowing and trusting Tracy to become “my eyes” has completed the passage.

Engaging and insightful, literally shedding light on a dark and misunderstood condition.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-58648-329-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2006