Under the Eye of the Clock: A Memoir
Deprived of oxygen for two hours at birth, Christopher Nolan almost died, but he lived to write, at age twenty-one, this award-winning autobiography, told as the story of one Joseph Meehan. Nolan’s birth injuries left him quadriplegic and completely unable to communicate, so for years no one suspected that his mind, though imprisoned in an inert body, was burning to express his innermost thoughts and ideas to not only his family but the world. Whether he is fighting with the authorities for the right to go to an ordinary school, or going on a “normal” vacation for the first time, Nolan’s story has a touching, often breathtaking intensity. Nolan recounts his ultimate triumph of finally being able to share with others the insight and whimsy of his inner world, unlocking the inventive wordsmith and gifted storyteller within. The result is astonishingly lyrical, filled with powerful description, touching moments of triumph, sadness, and anger, and above all disarming wit.
A remarkable work by several measures, Under the Eye of the Clock is the autobiography—told slyly through a third person alter-ego—of Christopher Nolan, struck at birth with brain damage and left paralyzed, spastic and mute. His first book, Dam-Burst of Dreams, written when he was a teen, was a collection of poems that exploded with linguistic virtuosity, earning him comparisons to Joyce and Yeats. Nolan, whose disability requires that someone cup his chin while he pushes a head-mounted pointer at the keyboard, tells here of battles in an un-handicapped world, the heroic efforts of his family and the sights of Ireland that surround him. The book won England’s Whitbread prize.