A Memoir of Blindness
By Ryan Knighton
(PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781586483296, 272pp.)
Publication Date: June 2006
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On his 18th birthday, Ryan Knighton was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), 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 relationshipwith 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.
Ryan Knighton teaches contemporary literature and creative writing at Capilano College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and served for two years as editor of the literary magazine The Capilano Review. The author of a book of poetry and co-author of a collection of short fiction, Knighton has also published widely as a journalist and essayist. He has also produced, written and performed radio monologues and documentaries about blindness for the CBC.