Memoirs written by actors are a diversion from what I ordinarily read. I discovered Walking With Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne when I came across an interview with him by fellow Irishman and author Colm Tóibín on YouTube. With my interest piqued, I ordered a copy from my local library. It was clear from their discussion that this was not a traditional or ordinary memoir. Could I learn something from reading it to help me write the biography of Topsy the elephant? If not, it would still be interesting to read.
This memoir ignores traditional narrative arcs that start with birth and move through life’s chapters. With no linear narrative, the impression formed of Byrne’s life is an honest abstract, an impressionistic self-reflection structured loosely around themes or events. It is also surprisingly free from gossip, simultaneously refreshing and disappointing. So, what are we left with? A blunt, painful self-examination revealing more than what a traditional celebrity memoir serves, often written by ghostwriters for their client’s self-glorification.