I Could Read The Sky
Timothy O'Grady, Author, Steve Pyke, Photographer
©Harvill Press 1997, 1998
©Penguin Random House, 1998
This is a quietly ambitious, grave and earnest book that mixes the elegiac prose of Chicago-born novelist O'Grady (Motherland) with the haunting photographs of Englishman Pyke to establish, remarkably, a quintessentially Irish novel. It's a tale, in the form of a lament, about sadness, longing and resignation, the story of a west of Ireland man who leaves for England in search of work sometime in mid-century. O'Grady's text consists of impressionistic sketches of a hard but colorful youth left behind, of an entire family marked by poverty and transformed by the dire requirements of growing up poor. It's all recalled from a kind of old-folks home, as the narrator remembers the things he could do--""Thatch a roof. Build stairs. Make a basket from reeds.... Read the sky.... Remember poems""--and those he could not--"
A multi award-winning book about emigration, a collaboration with photographer Steve Pyke, was inspired by John Berger, Dermot Healy and Martin Hayes and has inspired a film, a live show and songs by Iarla Ó Lionáird and Mark Knopfler