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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 harbored a childhood desire to become a priest. When he was eleven years old, Byrne found himself crossing the Irish 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 harbored 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 laborer 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 reveled 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 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.


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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 harbored a childhood desire to become a priest. When he was eleven years old, Byrne found himself crossing the Irish 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 harbored 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 laborer 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 reveled 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 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.

30 review for Walking with Ghosts

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook.... read by Gabriel “Make no mistake about it: ‘Walking With Ghosts’ 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’Brian”. —Colum McCann I started listening to this audiobook while hiking a quiet hilly trail.....a warm - summer—crystal clear blue sky day in ‘January’. The beauty of Gabriel’s words Audiobook.... read by Gabriel “Make no mistake about it: ‘Walking With Ghosts’ 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’Brian”. —Colum McCann I started listening to this audiobook while hiking a quiet hilly trail.....a warm - summer—crystal clear blue sky day in ‘January’. The beauty of Gabriel’s words were scrumptious.... a wonderful fitting-companion- matching my own mood—filling me with nature’s nourishment. His ‘sharing’ - ‘reflecting’ - ‘ storytelling’....was intricately detailed... like a great photograph. Stunning beauty illuminates Gabriel’s life — boyhood, family, imagination, emotions, nature.... with multiple layers of both splendor and affliction. I lost myself in his honesty, grief, humbleness, passions, romance, love, ...., It was a birds of paradise experience. I think I’ll have a “lay-down” now. ( like Gabriel’s beautiful mother often did).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    "Home is where the heart is, but the heart itself has no home.” Many moons ago, on a break from uni, my best friend headed overseas to travel. Ireland was one of the destinations. She asked me what I'd like her to bring back. My immediate reply was “Gabriel Byrne!”. I had quite a crush on him at the time. Such a handsome deevil. There was a movie called Into The West which beguiled me. Amusingly, my wish came true. Yes, she did bring me home Gabriel Byrne. In the form of a paperback. His first bi "Home is where the heart is, but the heart itself has no home.” Many moons ago, on a break from uni, my best friend headed overseas to travel. Ireland was one of the destinations. She asked me what I'd like her to bring back. My immediate reply was “Gabriel Byrne!”. I had quite a crush on him at the time. Such a handsome deevil. There was a movie called Into The West which beguiled me. Amusingly, my wish came true. Yes, she did bring me home Gabriel Byrne. In the form of a paperback. His first bio titled Pictures In My Head. Darn it! I should have been much more specific in my request. So where has Gabriel Byrne been and what has he been up to since he and I last crossed paths? Well, he’s written this unflinchingly raw memoir in which he looks back, and reminisces on his life, through the eyes of an older man. And walks with the ghosts of his past. To start with, his writing is utterly poetic. He shows a beautiful turn of phrase. More than once I started to tear up as the way he writes is just so… "I have never loved concrete like I loved a tree…the first stars of evening...the small spitter of rain on a windowpane.” You can take the boy out of Dublin, but you can’t take Dublin out of the boy. Even as a lad, we can see his appreciation of nature, of lights and textures. Feelings. He was a keen observer of people which is unusual for such as young ‘un, running around in shorts, collecting milk from a local farm as his Mum distrusted the shop-bought stuff. ”I ran and summersaulted until I was breathless and dizzy. I lay for hours under the upside-down sea of the sky, where the clouds became camels or the face of God.” I love this line. It gave me such a feeling of joy and exuberance to read it. We revisit the Dublin of his youth. The people and places. His sisters getting all dolled up to go out on a Friday night, people pouring out of pubs at closing time, going to local dances, reeking of Brut (aftershave), time spent with his Dad, learning about nature, the names of trees, wildflowers, birds. These paragraphs where he talked of such special moments were so poignant they hurt. "I carry that day like a photograph in my heart." Is this not the most beautiful line you have ever read? We criss-cross in time in this book. We jump from a memory of his childhood, to his being an adult, just starting out in his acting career across the waters. A snippet of his youth, immediately followed by first experience of an earthquake while staying in a hotel in LA (which was quite amusing, people in a mad panic, it’s 4.20am and yet ”Kenny G, weirdly, was still playing on the intercom.” Go Kenny!). Skip, jump, skip, jump. I actually enjoyed the mesh of timelines, as who are we if not a mix of all that has been, and all that is yet to be? We are all that. Time may well be linear, but we are not. We still exist both in the past as well as in the present. So this stream of consciousness sat really well with me, as my mind goes off on tangents all the time too. There’s no gossip, nor anything salacious here. No name dropping. No ego. A mixture of whimsy & maudlin is displayed, as only the Irish can do. Talk of saints, faeries and banshees, are all given equal respect. "My depression, it seems, was often linked to my drinking." Gabriel Byrne has always felt somewhat of an outsider. At university, he thought he'd be enmeshed in a world of knowledge. That his thirst to learn would be satiated. Instead, he felt talked down to. Made to feel he didn't belong. He may well have been the first one in his family to attend uni, but it brought him no joy. Perhaps only his work in theatre and the movies gave him some access to a truth he was seeking. Through the creative process. Though when fame came it didn't sit well with him, and he eyed it suspiciously. At the Cannes film festival when The Usual Suspects won best film, with the flashbulbs still popping in his eyes and ears, he and the black dog locked themselves in a plush apartment for several days. He was unable to reconcile the sudden interest and adoration from strangers of himself, as a person, with all the doubts and insecurities all of us have. He's a fascinating dichotomy. He doesn't shy away from his demons. He neither glorifies nor makes excuses for them. They are simply a part of him, at different points in his life. There is a quiet humour underlying these vignettes. Some of the book is downright funny. There is also an open sadness. A bittersweet melancholia. There are such deeply personal moments written about here, that you can't help but ponder on your own profound moments. Those that either make or break you. Perhaps both. And that you always carry around. Childhood sexual abuse, plunging into alcoholism, the loss of a dear sister due to mental health issues, the passing of both parents. Friendships that have fallen to the wayside and past loves are remembered. It’s unflinching. "The clock on the wall ticks the seconds away. The seconds become minutes, time relentlessly moving forward, no matter what you think or wish." Despite all this, his recollections are both thoughtful and soulful. Never bitter. I can well imagine being somewhere, a drink at fingertip’s distance, watching the sun set, sitting back, and listening to him talk. That’s how this biography reads. A friend telling you their story. Sharing their experiences. Looking back on times long past, recalling them as though they'd occurred only yesterday. "How to contain the minutes, the hours, the seconds, to make them last forever?" "They say the songs you love when you're young will break your heart when you're old." PUBLICATION DATE: 12.Jan.2021 Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Grove Press and the author Gabriel Byrne for the opportunity to read this advance copy - an uncorrected proof - in exchange for an honest review. #WalkingWithGhosts #NetGalley #GrovePress Life can shatter you. It can also be exquisitely beautiful. I started to read this before I had even an inkling that my world would be turned upside down. I was halfway through reading this when our beautiful Mum took ill (a month ago today), and I completed it after we lost her. I simply could not read a word for weeks. It’s also taken me several days to put this review together, as I did not know how I could do so coherently. Everything was too raw. There's so much more I wanted to say, but I didn't know how. This memoir has affected me deeply. In my mind, it will always be intrinsically entwined to this period of my life. I understand Gabriel’s reminisces all too perfectly. Especially the last few pages. They broke me. They are like a stab to the heart, in their tenderness and beauty. For Mum, I love you to the Moon and back 💖

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    "I carry that day like a photograph in my heart." Almost every sentence or story in this memoir is quotable. Gabriel Byrne is yet another Irish poet and born storyteller. Are these talents in their genes? The water? Does it come from a collective history? I sat down yesterday to listen to a bit of this memoir and became so enthralled by Byrne’s poetically written stories that I could not stop listening. His Irish accent didn’t hurt either. I finished it in one day. This is a book of stories. Ther "I carry that day like a photograph in my heart." Almost every sentence or story in this memoir is quotable. Gabriel Byrne is yet another Irish poet and born storyteller. Are these talents in their genes? The water? Does it come from a collective history? I sat down yesterday to listen to a bit of this memoir and became so enthralled by Byrne’s poetically written stories that I could not stop listening. His Irish accent didn’t hurt either. I finished it in one day. This is a book of stories. There are stories about his childhood, his family, his acting career and other career attempts and much more. The stories are not presented in a linear fashion. This kind of jumping around can sometimes distract me, but not this time. Each story has it’s own beginning and end. Some of the stories are hysterically funny, others heartbreakingly sad. All of the others are very poignant. Remember, he's Irish. There is nothing in this memoir which is not going to move you emotionally in one way or another. Try not to read the blurb or any reviews which tell the facts of Byrnes’ life. Let Byrne tell you about his life. You’ll be very glad you did. Here are a couple stories/excerpts which do not give away much about his life but give you a taste of this memoir: A funny story (not verbatim): He's staying in a hotel in Los Angeles on his first visit to the city. It's a very warm day and he's boiling hot in his room. He calls downstairs and asks if they could bring a fan to his room. He waits a long time. Nothing happens. He calls downstairs again and the woman explains that she asked all around the hotel if anyone was a fan of Gabriel Byrne and she couldn't find one." A poigant story: An adult Byrne is standing outside the house in which he grew up and is given short shrift by the current owner: ”I stand an intruder in my own past.” I’ll tell you one other thing which is not really a spoiler. Byrne tells his readers/listeners that he is an introvert and hides behind masks most of the time. He tries but struggles with being honest and authentic. “Taking off (his) mask is (his) greatest wish, but it is (his) greatest fear to be seen.” He was refering to social situations I’m sure, but, in writing this memoir you will not find a more authentic or honest accounting of a life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Violeta

    Who would have thought that next to being a very good actor and a very handsome man, Gabriel Byrne would also be a very good writer? Not to mention an absolutely terrific narrator of his own memoir. And I’m not only talking about his lovely Irish brogue; he possesses such a wide range of voices, tones and accents - an excellent impersonator in the best sense of the word! I don’t know which of these traits is the most valuable but I do know that the four of them together make for an irresistible Who would have thought that next to being a very good actor and a very handsome man, Gabriel Byrne would also be a very good writer? Not to mention an absolutely terrific narrator of his own memoir. And I’m not only talking about his lovely Irish brogue; he possesses such a wide range of voices, tones and accents - an excellent impersonator in the best sense of the word! I don’t know which of these traits is the most valuable but I do know that the four of them together make for an irresistible combination. What I truly appreciated in his heartfelt and flowing writing was how unpretentious he is. For a star of his caliber who’s been in the limelight of show business for the best part of his adult life, he’s surprisingly NOT full of himself; he is simply himself. And as engaging as his storytelling is that’s more than enough. This is not a detailed account of a career or a glamorous existence. He’s always been modest and private; very few stories (if none) circulate about him. It is a sentimental journey into the world of his childhood and adolescence. It’s the Ireland of the 50s and 60s where he meets with the ghosts of the book’s title. His own, very personal ghosts: his parents, siblings, childhood buddies, his teachers and the shop owners of his street, his first girlfriend, the old lady whose stories raised the hair on his neck but kept him going back for more. Irish ghosts, beloved ghosts and other, more tormenting and innermost ghosts: his battle with alcoholism and depression, his fears, his (very Catholic) guilt, his stage-fright, his self-alienation. Yet his is not a depressing story. For every sad memory there is an amusing incident to counterbalance the tone of the narrative, often in the recounting of the one and same event. So many sides, so many ways to remember things, depending on the mood of the moment. Now in his early 70s, Mr Byrne, seemingly reconciled with his demons and at peace with himself, has earned the right to do just that: narrate his own story in whatever manner he thinks best. It doesn’t come cheap; but it’s a blessing to have managed to stand on your feet and keep on walking, not because you chose the easy, ghost-free way (he didn’t) but because you found a way to turn your ghosts into companions for life. The solitary walk from the dressing room, down the stairs, to the stage, is a journey nobody can make for you. The huge speech in Act One. I know it backward. Yet I stumble on the second paragraph and panic, cursing the syntax of Eugene O’Neill, his repetitions, those long breathless sentences and fractured rhythms. This is one of the most difficult roles in one of his most difficult plays. Long Day’s Journey Into Night. The portrait of a ruined man clinging to the delusion of his past. I tried to find him in myself. I’ve buried myself into words and actions of O’Neill’s creation. The clock ticks. My breath comes shallow and fast. I began weeks ago, mumbling from the script as I moved around rehearsal space, self conscious, embarrassed before my fellow actors and the director. What do they think? That I’m ill suited to this complex character. A casting mistake. Why do I find it so difficult to meet their eyes? Uncomfortable standing or moving, my voice was high and false when I spoke. I blushed when the director stopped me mid-speech. I surrendered to his authority hoping he would lead me to the hidden path. Sealed off in a windowless room I dared to take risks, to free myself from judgment. Battle with doubt and fear of failure. Marry movement to emotion, be brave, be still, trust yourself. The Sisyphean pushing of a rock up a hill, slowly gaining confidence, plunging again into confusion. I cannot escape myself, yet I know this character only in relation to myself. I must dredge up the emotion from the well of my past. The truth is I don’t know what acting is… Where it comes from… Why it comes to one and not another…

  5. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    I begin to apply my makeup. My mask. Our tragedy, O'Neill said, is that we are haunted not just by the masks others wear but by the masks we wear ourselves. We all act all the time. Life makes us necessary deceivers. Except maybe when we are alone. From all biographies I read so far, I think this is the one that resonated with me on almost all levels. It touched me in a way I did not expect. First of all, the writing: it reminded me of Robert R. McCammon' Boy's Life. The same beautiful, warm, one I begin to apply my makeup. My mask. Our tragedy, O'Neill said, is that we are haunted not just by the masks others wear but by the masks we wear ourselves. We all act all the time. Life makes us necessary deceivers. Except maybe when we are alone. From all biographies I read so far, I think this is the one that resonated with me on almost all levels. It touched me in a way I did not expect. First of all, the writing: it reminded me of Robert R. McCammon' Boy's Life. The same beautiful, warm, onest and sometimes heartbreaking writing, told by a mature man through the eyes of his younger self. You cannot but be immersed completely into the story of this Irish child. His tales, mischiefs, small joys and tragedies makes the reader live his life too. Some are told through the eyes of his mother, father, different neighbours or random acquaintances, intertwined with bits and pieces from behind the scene, some hilarious, some sad, some life changing. I don't want to spoil the pleasure of reading it by giving more details. It's one of those small books which make you savour every word, even if some are heartbreaking. If this was not ghostwritten (it doesn't seem to be, but I'm no expert), then Gabriel Byrne has another great talent beside acting; he's a born storyteller. Wholeheartedly recommended. >>> ARC received thanks to  Grove Atlantic / Grove Press  via NetGalley <<< PS: I learned about the book from the interview below. It was love at first sight, and an instant entry in TBR. Lucky me to find it on NetGalley. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020... Some quotes to reread from time to time: (view spoiler)[ "I struggle with authenticity. Being truthful. Both to myself first and to other people. Is it possible to be completely honest with myself? To admit my fears, my demons, prejudices, the petty envies, the unfulfilled desires? I want to live an authentic life. To take off the mask requires courage. I admit my fragility, my vulnerability and weakness. Why are we so afraid to let others see us as we truly are? Can you ever really know another human being? There is a locked room which we ourselves dare not enter for fear. Fear of what exactly I don't know." "I am by nature an introvert. For a long time I was ashamed of this. As if it were somehow a moral failing. I never felt I belonged anywhere. Was always trying to be as real as I could. Seeking authenticity. But paralyzed by my mask and the masks of others. I can be sociable too. But it drains me of energy and I have to find refuge in solitude again." [His mother] "You did well for yourself getting your degree at the university. The first of the family ever to get to a university. And a scholarship no less. And now you're on the television. You're as well known as Doran's donkey." "What did I feel about being a sex symbol? I was mortified by this question. I'd never thought of myself as handsome, the opposite in fact, with my thrice-broken nose and beetroot colored face, webbed with broken veins." [quoting Richard Burton] "But this Jameson's makes sense of everything, for the moment. And poetry, the sound and music of words sooth me, always have. And books. Home is where the books are, he said." "Gielgud had told us he was so old he liked to pretend to die in the middle of a scene just to keep the producers on their toes." (hide spoiler)]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. Not a linear tale, Byrne alternates stories of his growing up in Ireland with his battles of alcoholism, supporting a sister through mental illness, his almost career in the priesthood and some memorable moments from his acting career. I think what I learned most is that as a reluctant film star, it will always be his homeland that will call Gabriel Byrne home. Usually jumping around in a memoir doesn't wor Thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. Not a linear tale, Byrne alternates stories of his growing up in Ireland with his battles of alcoholism, supporting a sister through mental illness, his almost career in the priesthood and some memorable moments from his acting career. I think what I learned most is that as a reluctant film star, it will always be his homeland that will call Gabriel Byrne home. Usually jumping around in a memoir doesn't work for me but I just kept turning the pages. Goodreads review published 10/01/21 Expected Publication 12/01/21 Review is also on Instagram and Facebook

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    This book is once again proof that all Irish are poets. In language that evokes a sensual capture of his life, Gabriel Byrne describes what forces led him to be one of Ireland's most successful exports to the world of entertainment in many disciplines, winning awards and notice whether on stage or screen. In a most clever fashion, revealing much internal growth and purpose without betraying any of the details he wishes to keep to himself, it reminded me mostly of Wendell Pierce's memoir The Wind This book is once again proof that all Irish are poets. In language that evokes a sensual capture of his life, Gabriel Byrne describes what forces led him to be one of Ireland's most successful exports to the world of entertainment in many disciplines, winning awards and notice whether on stage or screen. In a most clever fashion, revealing much internal growth and purpose without betraying any of the details he wishes to keep to himself, it reminded me mostly of Wendell Pierce's memoir The Wind in the Reeds. Still, upon completion, I felt I knew the man better without a bit of superfluous, gossipy material. His accomplishments are wide and varied and have garnered him many many fans, but even the best known are only referred to in passing as they reflect on what was occuring in his life at the time. Highly recommended as a thoughtful memoir of depth and art.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    At its heart, Walking With Ghosts is a soulful, loving, occasionally sad, remembrance of a life lived hard and fully, and a loving tribute to parents who are never understood by the young. In his memoir, Byrne’s primary focus seems to be on his childhood, his parents and family, how he grew up, the long and rather circuitous route to acting that ultimately led him to what he wanted/needed. There are flashes of the more recent times that many of us may be more aware of, particularly some of his mo At its heart, Walking With Ghosts is a soulful, loving, occasionally sad, remembrance of a life lived hard and fully, and a loving tribute to parents who are never understood by the young. In his memoir, Byrne’s primary focus seems to be on his childhood, his parents and family, how he grew up, the long and rather circuitous route to acting that ultimately led him to what he wanted/needed. There are flashes of the more recent times that many of us may be more aware of, particularly some of his more famous roles, but there is much more about what may have formed him and life in Ireland in the post World War 2 years. Toward the end of this story, Byrne deals with the question of his profession. Why did I choose this life? The life of an actor. Destiny was it? Maybe the signs had been there all along. I had been surrounded in real life by actors in the theater of the street. I was an observer of the characters of my childhood. I would imagine them being actors in my own made-up plays. Like the traveling storyteller, who knew about timing: the pause, the whisper, the slowing down and speeding up of words. Who knew how to sprinkle humor and tension.... I wondered what power he had, to make people silent with awe.. (loc 1998) I definitely recommend Walking With Ghosts to all who enjoy memoirs, those who have enjoyed Mr. Byrne’s work over the years and anyone who would like to read a soul searching look back at life and heritage. My rating is probably 4 to 4.5*. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ~Theresa Kennedy~

    So, this is without doubt one of the BEST books I've EVER read. There is something so very poetic about Gabriel Byrne's prose. He is a careful, elegant and poetic writer. He writes like a poet and uses incredibly original and unique phrasing, and colloquialisms that are also uniquely Irish. I found myself able to relate to so much of his experience and the stories because of my own history as a Scots/Irish American person. I too come from a large family. There were nine of us children and my poo So, this is without doubt one of the BEST books I've EVER read. There is something so very poetic about Gabriel Byrne's prose. He is a careful, elegant and poetic writer. He writes like a poet and uses incredibly original and unique phrasing, and colloquialisms that are also uniquely Irish. I found myself able to relate to so much of his experience and the stories because of my own history as a Scots/Irish American person. I too come from a large family. There were nine of us children and my poor mother and father were so overworked and exhausted. Byrne writes of being molested by a Catholic Priest with a "seductive" and pleasing voice. He writes about the death of his sister, who was mentally ill. (My oldest sister died and was mentally ill). He writes of his slow realization that he must become an actor. There are just so many great stories and the way he gently, kindly and compassionately portrays both his parents just touched my heart. This is just such a wonderful book. I give if five stars without hesitation. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martie Nees Record

    Genre: Memoir Publisher: Grove Press Pub. Date” Jan. 12, 2021 Mini-Review Let me begin this review by saying that I wanted to read this book because Gabriel Byrne has always been one of my Hollywood crushes. I went in thinking I was about to read the usual gossipy, self-centered Hollywood memoir. What I ended up reading was Irish poetry, written as an autobiography. Byrne lyrically describes growing up in the 1950s and 60s in working-class Dublin within a devout Catholic family where he is the eldes Genre: Memoir Publisher: Grove Press Pub. Date” Jan. 12, 2021 Mini-Review Let me begin this review by saying that I wanted to read this book because Gabriel Byrne has always been one of my Hollywood crushes. I went in thinking I was about to read the usual gossipy, self-centered Hollywood memoir. What I ended up reading was Irish poetry, written as an autobiography. Byrne lyrically describes growing up in the 1950s and 60s in working-class Dublin within a devout Catholic family where he is the eldest of six siblings. From the beginning of the book, it is clear that Bryne had no intention to write about his fame. There is no hint of self-indulgence or vanity. When he does talk about his accomplishments as a successful actor, film director, and film producer, they are mentioned as an afterthought. Unlike many famous actors, there is no “look at and love me” feel. When he is frank about his alcoholism, and now being sober for over twenty years, again he is not going for a dramatic Hollywood downfall and then survival vibe. Instead, in moving poetic prose, he compares how his feeling between theaters and bars were similar—he liked them both. In this very original memoir that is often as sad as it is humorous, Byrne shows us his soul. Turns out, the handsome actor is also a talented writer. He possesses a unique descriptive power in telling us about the many years of his career. If you are looking for an “Inside Out,” Demi Moore type of memoir, then this one is not for you. If you are looking for a surprisingly well-written autobiography, this is your book. Before reading Byrne’s life story, his face is what impressed me. After reading his poignant memoir, I now admire him the person, and of course his writing ability. However, I still think he is easy on the eyes. I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review Find all my book reviews at: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list… https://books6259.wordpress.com/ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/review… https://www.facebook.com/martie.neesr… https://www.instagram.com/martie6947/ https://www.pinterest.com/martienreco…\ https://www.amazon.com/ https://twitter.com/NeesRecord

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan K

    A novel posing as an autobiography Were he to have been known as a screen writer, skill at writing would be expected. But Byrne's fame is stage and screen, so the reading experience was joyful. That said, I feel it important to state I rarely if ever read biographies but made an exception that paid off. Born in Ireland, much of his early days seemed logical, including the religious pursuits. I'd have given the book five stars but felt there was far too much dedicated to childhood and not nearly A novel posing as an autobiography Were he to have been known as a screen writer, skill at writing would be expected. But Byrne's fame is stage and screen, so the reading experience was joyful. That said, I feel it important to state I rarely if ever read biographies but made an exception that paid off. Born in Ireland, much of his early days seemed logical, including the religious pursuits. I'd have given the book five stars but felt there was far too much dedicated to childhood and not nearly enough of Hollywood. Regardless, he's a master with words and has lead an interesting life

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is a beautifully expressed and wonderfully constructed memoir of relatable growing up experiences common to us all. I have appreciated Byrne's work over the years, but that is not the emphasis in this poignant sharing of vivid childhood memories and is entirely absent of show biz glamour. Yes, there are a few references to famous people but only as brilliant gems of memory that made an impact on him. The Irish upbringing is paramount and beautifully told. Library Loan This is a beautifully expressed and wonderfully constructed memoir of relatable growing up experiences common to us all. I have appreciated Byrne's work over the years, but that is not the emphasis in this poignant sharing of vivid childhood memories and is entirely absent of show biz glamour. Yes, there are a few references to famous people but only as brilliant gems of memory that made an impact on him. The Irish upbringing is paramount and beautifully told. Library Loan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susie Stangland

    I picked up this book last night, thinking I would read a chapter or two. I ended up reading until the final page. It was one of the most original memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s written in the spirit I wish all memoirs were which was rather than an “oh how great am I” story, it is more as if you are sitting with him while he turns the photos of an album and tells you about each person or place in the photo and how they impacted him. It was quite moving as the words seem to generate from the soul n I picked up this book last night, thinking I would read a chapter or two. I ended up reading until the final page. It was one of the most original memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s written in the spirit I wish all memoirs were which was rather than an “oh how great am I” story, it is more as if you are sitting with him while he turns the photos of an album and tells you about each person or place in the photo and how they impacted him. It was quite moving as the words seem to generate from the soul not just his physical experience in the world. No ego in this tale. I’ve seen a couple of his films but that’s not why I wanted to read this. This might sound nutty but it’s a book you may not even know you want to read but should and will be better for it. So take a walk with Gabriel Byrne, listen to his stories and you might want to live with greater intention regardless of whether that was his goal.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Pickens

    Irish actor Gabriel Bryne has a stream of consciousness account of his memories growing up in a poor family, sexual abuse from Catholic priests, his failures at finding a profession, and his struggle with depression and alcoholism that resulted. I give 5 stars for his unfailing honesty which he has been able to channel into his acting. He is known for the role of Dean Keaten in The Usual Suspects, one of my favorite films and Dr Paul Weston in the TV series In Treatment. Gabriel Byrne was awarde Irish actor Gabriel Bryne has a stream of consciousness account of his memories growing up in a poor family, sexual abuse from Catholic priests, his failures at finding a profession, and his struggle with depression and alcoholism that resulted. I give 5 stars for his unfailing honesty which he has been able to channel into his acting. He is known for the role of Dean Keaten in The Usual Suspects, one of my favorite films and Dr Paul Weston in the TV series In Treatment. Gabriel Byrne was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Irish cinema.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This memoir was absolutely gorgeous, and I loved every word! The author goes into the most painful areas of his life, which immediately connections him with the reader. He also reveals so much pain he's experienced over the years—from losing a childhood friend to his parents to alcoholism and abuse. This book is a gift - hearing from someone we all admire and see in movies can share all of this deep insight into his life and pain. Also, the form in which he wrote this memoir was very personal—fr This memoir was absolutely gorgeous, and I loved every word! The author goes into the most painful areas of his life, which immediately connections him with the reader. He also reveals so much pain he's experienced over the years—from losing a childhood friend to his parents to alcoholism and abuse. This book is a gift - hearing from someone we all admire and see in movies can share all of this deep insight into his life and pain. Also, the form in which he wrote this memoir was very personal—from the punctuation to the lyrical quality of writing—the format makes this very intimate and powerful memoir feel as if you're just having a conversation. If you would like to listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/gab...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne Scott

    Raw. Real. Brilliant. You leave the book feeling like you genuinely understand him. I only wish it was longer.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    If it weren't for the fact that I greatly enjoyed his performance in several films, I would say that Byrne is in the wrong profession. His writing is beautiful, lyrical, and mesmerizing. He paints beautiful pictures even for the saddest events in his life. He brings the reader into his life and walks you through growing, learning, suffering, loving, and just plain old living. The way he shares his life doesn't just open up his past to you, you end up walking away with a more open perspective and w If it weren't for the fact that I greatly enjoyed his performance in several films, I would say that Byrne is in the wrong profession. His writing is beautiful, lyrical, and mesmerizing. He paints beautiful pictures even for the saddest events in his life. He brings the reader into his life and walks you through growing, learning, suffering, loving, and just plain old living. The way he shares his life doesn't just open up his past to you, you end up walking away with a more open perspective and with lots to mull over. Rather unexpectedly, this is one of the most thought-provoking memoirs I've ever read. It might just be that I fell in love with the language, but I think a lot of what was said would have hit just as hard if not told as beautifully. Many extremely happy thanks to NetGalley and Grove Press for the early read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Too slow, I had no idea where he was going with this, and it seems antiquated to me, or maybe I'm just not interested enough Too slow, I had no idea where he was going with this, and it seems antiquated to me, or maybe I'm just not interested enough

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    Gabriel Byrne has exceptional talent as an actor. Reading is memoir you can see that his life was not exactly a walk in the park. He had a really difficult childhood, but he was loved by his parents as much as they could possibly give to him even though they could not financially provide for him or his siblings. At the time his parents did what they could and they strived to give them a chance in life. It was sad seminary life turned out the way it did. Mr.Byrne had natural talent that showcased Gabriel Byrne has exceptional talent as an actor. Reading is memoir you can see that his life was not exactly a walk in the park. He had a really difficult childhood, but he was loved by his parents as much as they could possibly give to him even though they could not financially provide for him or his siblings. At the time his parents did what they could and they strived to give them a chance in life. It was sad seminary life turned out the way it did. Mr.Byrne had natural talent that showcased and was recognized and I personally like the fact that he tries to keep his personal life as private as possible. I don’t think it needs to be on display for everyone to exploit your children before they even have a chance to discover who they are or what they want for their own lives without being pigeonholed as that rich actors kid! I got lost a few times in the book, but I just went back and reread a few passages and I was then able to connect the dots. His story was very haunting and poignant and had a almost dark side at times. I could even relate with him because I had a very poor family dynamics except mine was fraught with abuse. His almost at times had such gray areas that you wonder if there were more damage than what he truly revealed? He held back at times in some situations, but the book was written with such a unique genuine desire to let us know him when he was discovering who he was before he became this big star. I don’t think he even realizes how powerful of a star he truly has become on the screen! I received an advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

    Gabriel Byrne is an underrated, unshowy actor and this also comes through in his writing. Most memoirs by actors are libellous or contain a morbid obsession with their dark past. Byrne manages to find the light in between in this easy, poetic read. I loved the switching between his childhood and his time on set, as Byrne seems as much of a thinker and observer, as an actor and he clearly does not relish being the centre of attention. His childhood in Ireland is so evocatively depicted, and descri Gabriel Byrne is an underrated, unshowy actor and this also comes through in his writing. Most memoirs by actors are libellous or contain a morbid obsession with their dark past. Byrne manages to find the light in between in this easy, poetic read. I loved the switching between his childhood and his time on set, as Byrne seems as much of a thinker and observer, as an actor and he clearly does not relish being the centre of attention. His childhood in Ireland is so evocatively depicted, and described without judgement, that it was a pleasure to sit back and drink it in. I would be keen to read a sequel. Thanks to NetGalley, Grove Atlantic and Gabriel Byrne for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Gabriel Byrne makes it obvious that Ireland is the land of storytellers. His writing is beautifully poetic, even when sharing darker stories about alcoholism, sexual abuse, and poverty. I didn't always enjoy the "stream of conciousness" flow of the story - a lot of jumping back and forth - but overall, "Walking with Ghosts" is an interesting dive into Byrne's life outside of Hollywood. Thank you, NetGalley, for the ARC. Gabriel Byrne makes it obvious that Ireland is the land of storytellers. His writing is beautifully poetic, even when sharing darker stories about alcoholism, sexual abuse, and poverty. I didn't always enjoy the "stream of conciousness" flow of the story - a lot of jumping back and forth - but overall, "Walking with Ghosts" is an interesting dive into Byrne's life outside of Hollywood. Thank you, NetGalley, for the ARC.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vansa

    This lovely, lyrical memoir has set the standard extremely high, for my reading this year. There are times when a non-linear narrative works perfectly, and it's incredible how deftly Byrne pulls that off, given that his metier isn't writing, but acting! Deviating from the form of a normal straight-line progression of a memoir ( and I have absolutely nothing against that either), this book is a collection of memories, taking in his childhood in a family of 8 in Dublin ( fun but chaotic), his expe This lovely, lyrical memoir has set the standard extremely high, for my reading this year. There are times when a non-linear narrative works perfectly, and it's incredible how deftly Byrne pulls that off, given that his metier isn't writing, but acting! Deviating from the form of a normal straight-line progression of a memoir ( and I have absolutely nothing against that either), this book is a collection of memories, taking in his childhood in a family of 8 in Dublin ( fun but chaotic), his experiences with a seminary ( soul-crushingly awful), starting troubles in acting, experiences with fame and stardom. The book is loosely structured in a fascinating way-each childhood reminiscence is juxtaposed with one from his adult life, but that's done very cleverly, with a common thread linking the two. THe memory of him getting his first suit, for instance, precedes a chapter on Versace making a premiere suit for him, and this is more or less the way the book goes, making it very rewarding for more than one read- as soon as I finished it, I started all over again, paying special attention this time to the order of chapters. I found that this made the emotional impact of the writing that much more powerful, and more realistic-our memories don't come to us perfectly in chronological order either! Byrne doesn't hesitate to pull his punches, whether it's writing about struggles with alcoholism, sexual abuse or the price of fame. The memoir's a lot more than an account of being star-struck by famous names popping up, or complications with difficult directors-though there's enough of that for a movie buff as well, with some great insights into the process of acting. It's a poignant account of a man looking back with the advantage of hindsight ,and discovering that time he thought was lost was never really lost at all, all of it made him who he is today. And he isn't done yet with time! Lots more curtain calls, and hopefully books, in Gabriel Byrne's future! Very grateful to Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for this ARC and giving me the opportunity to review this book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Audiobook - read by the author! Great read (listen), entertaining but also makes you think and 'stop'. Audiobook - read by the author! Great read (listen), entertaining but also makes you think and 'stop'.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    A beautiful memoir, poetic and quietly powerful in its writing and audio narration. I've been a great admirer (aka FAN) of Gabriel Byrne's acting in movies, on TV, and on Broadway. Now I also have a deep admiration [aka LOVE] for his writing and for him as a person. For details, ditto all the other 5-star reviews. A beautiful memoir, poetic and quietly powerful in its writing and audio narration. I've been a great admirer (aka FAN) of Gabriel Byrne's acting in movies, on TV, and on Broadway. Now I also have a deep admiration [aka LOVE] for his writing and for him as a person. For details, ditto all the other 5-star reviews.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wanda Maynard

    WALKING WITH GHOSTS, by Gabriel Byrne, was uniquely different from your typical ghost story. The first few pages grabbed me as he talked about his dreams. I pictured those green fields, and watched the river as it gently flowed by, and actually heard the rippling of the water, and felt the warmth of the golden sun. It was as if I was there for a moment on that beautiful lazy carefree day. Then suddenly as I delved deeper the scene had changed. the picture was no longer the same. Gone were those WALKING WITH GHOSTS, by Gabriel Byrne, was uniquely different from your typical ghost story. The first few pages grabbed me as he talked about his dreams. I pictured those green fields, and watched the river as it gently flowed by, and actually heard the rippling of the water, and felt the warmth of the golden sun. It was as if I was there for a moment on that beautiful lazy carefree day. Then suddenly as I delved deeper the scene had changed. the picture was no longer the same. Gone were those beautiful lazy days of long ago. Something else had taken its place. I felt the sadness there. Reading further into the book people from the past came more quickly into view. Neighbors, families, and friends. Especially this one house he talked about stayed in my mind as he walked through the woods and looked through lace curtains and saw furniture covered with sheets, like ghosts, buckets catching the rain from a leaky roof. A picturesque scene of water falling drop by drop making small splashes, and an old piano rotting away in the corner. I actually saw his childhood dream come to life there. Heard the laughter, music, and people talking. That, to me, was a forgotten memory filled with strong details, because that scene seemed so melancholy. So forgotten. Then just as suddenly brought to mind as he gazed inside; as if the scene was awaken from a deep sleep and took him back to another time. There were other sad scenes; especially the one concerning his brother. That one, I thought: could have ended tragically. There were also some happy scenes; like thoughts of home, when his grandmother took him to watch picture shows. His father teaching him to ride a bicycle. I am glad the author took this reader down a path of enjoyable memories belonging to a former time. An unforgettable read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Gabriel Byrne really came to my awareness for his stand-out performance in The Usual Suspects (1995). Although I can't as readily recall any of his many other film roles - he always stands out for a nuanced, understated delivery, to me. So, I was intrigued to read this memoir from him. I expected a typical actor's autobiography: filming locations, behind the scenes anecdotes, characterizations of producers and directors, that sort of thing. This is much different, and much better with greater de Gabriel Byrne really came to my awareness for his stand-out performance in The Usual Suspects (1995). Although I can't as readily recall any of his many other film roles - he always stands out for a nuanced, understated delivery, to me. So, I was intrigued to read this memoir from him. I expected a typical actor's autobiography: filming locations, behind the scenes anecdotes, characterizations of producers and directors, that sort of thing. This is much different, and much better with greater depth. Recalling life up to now, Byrne tells of growing up in Ireland, life in Dublin and some real dark and disturbing incidents climaxing in letting the drink take him just as his career was accelerating. I hope that is some catharsis for Byrne here, and a second volume comes. His writing style is light and nearly poetic - telegraphing well the moods and feelings evocative and formative memories summon in all of us. The luminous, dreamlike recollections explored are moving reading - I literally reeled a bit at the sudden ending as I was lost in the telling.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne is an excellent memoir by one of my most favorite actors of all time. As soon as I saw that he had penned this memoir, I knew I just had to read it. I was not disappointed and I was truly enthralled for every word of every page. The ability of Mr. Byrne to create a literary vision, weaving ordinary words into spun gold was stunning. I am blown away yet again at his talent. The prose, the descriptions, the literary techniques that he used effortlessl Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne is an excellent memoir by one of my most favorite actors of all time. As soon as I saw that he had penned this memoir, I knew I just had to read it. I was not disappointed and I was truly enthralled for every word of every page. The ability of Mr. Byrne to create a literary vision, weaving ordinary words into spun gold was stunning. I am blown away yet again at his talent. The prose, the descriptions, the literary techniques that he used effortlessly was just beyond description. Mr. Byrne created a stream of images that gave the reader an ability to envision how he became to be the adult he is today. We see images from his adolescence in Ireland and He does not shy away from honesty, brutality, and the moments of light in between. The result is something so personal, so raw, so beautiful in all its different emotions evoked, that it literally took my breath away. Beyond excellent and easily one of my favorite books this year. 5/5 stars Thank you EW and Grove Press for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR, Instagram, and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts (and Instagram again) upon publication.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott Nickels

    “Walking With Ghosts” an autobiography by Gabriel Byrne, is an unique telling of one’s own life journey. The author is an Irish actor of some renown and his story is told in “story balloons” as contrasted to most autobiographies that take a linear road from birth to late-in-life. About 1/3 of the way through reading the book my mind suddenly shouted “poetry.” And these anecdotes that make up the book are more poetry than narrative. That is true specifically in the telling of Mr. Byrne’s childhoo “Walking With Ghosts” an autobiography by Gabriel Byrne, is an unique telling of one’s own life journey. The author is an Irish actor of some renown and his story is told in “story balloons” as contrasted to most autobiographies that take a linear road from birth to late-in-life. About 1/3 of the way through reading the book my mind suddenly shouted “poetry.” And these anecdotes that make up the book are more poetry than narrative. That is true specifically in the telling of Mr. Byrne’s childhood events that take up a large part of the narrative. You will learn about growing up in poverty, a sensitive telling of sexual abuse, his dramatic insecurities in his talent and his looks, and his own war with alcoholism. Thanks to NetGalley for this fascinating story: and it has left me hoping Mr. Byrne writes a follow up book (soon!) with any number of additional stories from an interesting life, mostly well-lived.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Hogan

    Finished Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne, the Irish Director, Producer and Actor. I was fortunate to get access to this book, due out on November 12, 2020. This book enthralled me. Byrne’s descriptions of his life are poetic, his use of language brilliant. He overcame a less than ambitious start in life after being asked to leave the seminary at age 16 after five years, alcoholism and other challenging experience before discovering his calling in performance.I was impressed by the Finished Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne, the Irish Director, Producer and Actor. I was fortunate to get access to this book, due out on November 12, 2020. This book enthralled me. Byrne’s descriptions of his life are poetic, his use of language brilliant. He overcame a less than ambitious start in life after being asked to leave the seminary at age 16 after five years, alcoholism and other challenging experience before discovering his calling in performance.I was impressed by the number of movies and plays he appeared in and fascinated by the sheer number of famous actors he worked with. I admire him greatly after reading this book for his authenticity, a truly remarkable tale, well told.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Farrell

    Walking with ghosts. A joy to read. Byrne’s memoir is beautifully told, his visual writing evoking laughter, but also profound sorrow through powerful and deeply personal reminiscence. Whether describing aspects of his childhood, his life in Ireland or his career adventures abroad, every experience is recounted with honesty, dignity, humility, and a riveting sense of place. My thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read this upcoming title, due for publication in January, Walking with ghosts. A joy to read. Byrne’s memoir is beautifully told, his visual writing evoking laughter, but also profound sorrow through powerful and deeply personal reminiscence. Whether describing aspects of his childhood, his life in Ireland or his career adventures abroad, every experience is recounted with honesty, dignity, humility, and a riveting sense of place. My thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read this upcoming title, due for publication in January, 2021.

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