Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir (Hardback)Gabriel Byrne (author)
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As a young boy growing up in the outskirts of Dublin, Gabriel Byrne sought refuge in a world of imagination among the fields and hills near his home, at the edge of a rapidly encroaching city. Born to working-class parents and the eldest of six children, he harboured a childhood desire to become a priest. When he was eleven years old, Byrne found himself crossing the Irish Sea to join a seminary in England. Four years later, Byrne had been expelled and he quickly returned to his native city. There he took odd jobs as a messenger boy and a factory labourer to get by. In his spare time he visited the cinema, where he could be alone and yet part of a crowd. It was here that he could begin to imagine a life beyond the grey world of '60s Ireland.
He revelled in the theatre and poetry of Dublin's streets, populated by characters as eccentric and remarkable as any in fiction, those who spin a yarn with acuity and wit. It was a friend who suggested Byrne join an amateur drama group, a decision that would change his life forever and launch him on an extraordinary forty-year career in film and theatre. Moving between sensual recollection of childhood in a now almost vanished Ireland and reflections on stardom in Hollywood and on Broadway, Byrne also courageously recounts his battle with addiction and the ambivalence of fame.
Walking with Ghosts is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking as well as a lyrical homage to the people and landscapes that ultimately shape our destinies.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 320 g
Dimensions: 224 x 143 x 26 mm
Dreamy, lyrical and utterly unvarnished. [Byrne] writes passionately about first love and hilariously about life as an actor -- Colm Toibin * Irish Times *
Make no mistake about it: this is a masterpiece. A book that will wring out our tired hearts. It is by turns poetic, moving and very funny. You will find it on the shelf alongside other great Irish memoirs including those by Frank McCourt, Nuala O'Faolain and Edna O'Brien -- Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
The allure of Gabriel Byrne's memoir is that it persuasively humanizes what it is to be a big deal movie star. Byrne is wonderfully without cant or bluster or phony humility. Instead he leads with felicity, candor, humor and empathy. In the end, he seems to be somebody you'd be glad to know -- Richard Ford
A wry and warm, swirling poetic reverie of a memoir -- Colin Barrett
A joy of a book - full of heart and humour, beautifully told -- Sinead Gleeson
Byrne arrives at a truth greater than an honest and sensitive memoir; he verges on a profoundly touching articulation of our short time on earth, time that will make of each of us nothing more or less than a ghost * Independent *
Reading the book was a beautiful experience; it's superb. It really is a very special book so if you love someone buy it for them for Christmas -- Eamon Dunphy
Structured around an imaginary, haunted visit to the Dublin of his youth, the book does offer sketches from the movie wonderland - John Boorman being bossy on Excalibur, testy encounters with Laurence Olivier in the 1980s - but it is more to do with conjuring up a now-vanished Ireland. The smell of the Guinness brewery. Early acting experiences in a nativity play. The church, everywhere the church * Irish Times *
The writing is so vivid it's as if we are by Gabriel Byrne's shoulder through the sorrowful times and the joyous moments. He weaves an intimate and absorbing tapestry of the poignant and the funny -- Kirsty Wark
A working-class family memoir as well as a meditation on fame and its discontents -- Sena O'Hagan * Observer *
Walking with Ghosts is exquisite. This book feels like the culmination of a long literary career and not the debut of a famous actor. Byrne makes himself fully vulnerable while in total command of language and form. There is great truth and great beauty in this close examination of a life and the passage of time. I've never read a memoir so raw and honest and literary and absolutely, staggeringly brilliant -- Lily King
[Byrne] writes with much more depth than the typical celebrity memoirist, accessing some of Seamus Heaney's earthiness and James Joyce's grasp of how Catholic guilt can shape an artist . . . A melancholy but gemlike memoir, elegantly written and rich in hard experience * Kirkus (starred review) *
Mercurial, ferociously honest and moving . . . A poignant symphony of memories and dreams, longing and loss, in a search for the immigrants most elusive prize, home -- Karl Geary, author of Montpelier
A poetic journey into those secret realms of memory which dominate our lives, but are rarely spoken about. By revealing himself with such courage, compassion, and exquisite poise, Gabriel Byrne gives readers that rare gift of being able to see themselves in the feelings of another person. This book is more than a memoir-it's a mirror that reflects the deepest parts of us in exile -- Simon Van Booy
A remembrance of the Ireland Byrne left behind, one which is no longer there * Hot Press, '2020 Books of the Year' *
Dazzles with unflinching honesty, as it celebrates the exuberance of being alive to the world despite living through pain. [Byrne's] portrait of an artist as a young boy is steeped in nostalgia of the best sort, re-creating the pull of home . . . With this tender book - full of warm and often funny stories - Byrne shows us the depth of his true character * Washington Post *
In emotional, evocative prose, Walking With Ghosts describes the town outside Dublin where [Byrne] grew up, the oldest of six children crammed into a small house, their father working as a barrel-maker for the Guinness brewery, everyone in each other's business. They were steeped in Catholicism . . . In passages that are horrifying, then funny, then both, he describes, for instance, learning the story of Adam and Eve from a fire-and-brimstone nun, in a lesson that ends with God declaring to the fallen pair: 'And by the way, your children will be miserable as well.' ('That's why the world is such an unhappy place,' the nun adds.) . . . Can you go home again? That is the tantalizing question raised by Walking With Ghosts -- Sarah Lyall * The New York Times *
Byrne is very honest and interspersed with all of the beautifully evoked sadness [in Walking With Ghosts] are very funny moments . . . you know he has a very good sense of humour but he probably wouldn't admit it -- Jane Smiley
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“A joy to read”
This is a really beautifully written memoir. Rather than a traditional chronological approach focusing on the acting stage of his life, Byrne builds chapters around major influences in his life, both people and... More
“Excellent 4.5☆ autobiography”
Well worth a read. Gabriel Byrne is very strong in the description of his Dublin childhood. The narrative jumps between his successful Hollywood film career and Byrne's early life. His recollections are always... More
“Beautiful memoir, handles tragic and sensitive topics with grace”
Beautifully and poetically written, I had to reread certain sentences as they were breathtakingly well written. Certain passages absolutely broke my heart and others had me in tears of laughter. Glorious and... More
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