Video, audio, and text: Gabriel Byrne crosses the media lines to bring us his story.
Don’t forget! This Thursday, February 25, 7:00 pm EST is the McNally Jackson Independent Booksellers conversation with Gabriel and bookstore founder Sarah McNally.
Video: Gabriel Byrne in conversation with Lily King
More about Lily King:
Lily King is the award-winning author most recently of Writers & Lovers as well as the novels The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, Father of the Rain, and Euphoria, one of the New York Times Book Review’s “10 Best Books of 2014,” finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Kirkus Prize. She lives in Maine.
Audio: Gabriel Byrne on Navigating Past and Present, Fact and Imagination
In Conversation with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast at Literary Hub, on February 12, 2021. This was a conversation from Miami to Maine. The link takes you to the complete audio file.
Text: An excerpt from the Literary Life podcast
Gabriel Byrne: When I started to write the book, I hadn’t intended to write a memoir. I was sketching just some images that were persistent in my head. I sometimes think that those images are like when you come on a fence and a sheep has left a bit of wool there; it’s just snagged. And you look at it and you say, I wonder why that’s there. Why is that image there? What does that image actually mean?
The one thing that I learned about the act of memory from writing this is number one, memory is fragmented. It doesn’t move in a chronological past, where you say that happened and then that happened. Memory jumps between the present and the past constantly. It also jumps between fact and imagination. And sometimes you have to excavate the moment to see whether this is a fact or if this is what you think you remember.
An extreme example of that would be if you went back to the house that you lived in, as an adult, and you’d say, god, it’s really small here. That’s an example of how memory can be unreliable. And that’s why I think I took a while to write the book, because I wanted to test every image from every point of view to say, okay, this is as truthful as I can be. I don’t think we can really test our memories as much as we should do. Because people say, ah, I don’t really remember that much, it’s kind of hazy. But if you get into the frame of mind where you—I’m not saying meditate, but if you really concentrate on the image, unconscious memories will start to bubble up.
I don’t think that most of what happens to us goes into this big vacuum that we can’t remember. It goes somewhere, and we have to find a way to access it. One of the things that you really remember in life, you remember kind of remarkable things. The day your mother said this or you went to that school or whatever. But what I was interested in was those tiny moments on which our lives turned and that we don’t think are important. But going up the stairs and opening the door and walking in can change your life as much as a major event that happens. I was curious about those little moments, and how are those moments stitched together with the big moments to create who you are?
A personal note from Stella:
Many thanks to those of you who tried to contact me during the Great Texas Winter Storm! It was C O L D. Below zero, in fact, up here in the desert mountains of Far West Texas, with a biting wind and 6 inches of snow. My little community is recovering from prolonged power outages and busted pipes and, though there is damage to homes and to spirits, we know that some communities fared much worse. Please keep Texas in your thoughts for awhile as we try to figure out how NOT to go through this in the future. I suspect the solution lies in our choice of state leaders . . . heart