A voice for the voiceless

Under the Eye of the Clock: The Life Story of Christopher Nolan, by Christopher Nolan. Preface by John Carey. New York: St. Martin's Press. 176 pp. $16.95. Mute and spastic, young Christopher Nolan learned, with great difficulty, to use a typewriter. He plunged into writing with the enthusiasm that is summoned up in the title of a collection of poems he published seven years ago, when he was 15: ``Dam-Burst of Dreams.'' Now, in his prizewinning autobiography, he tells his own story in the the third person, in a poetic, eccentric prose owing something to the influence of James Joyce and Dylan Thomas.

Nolan invents new words, uses old ones in new ways, and reinvests stock phrases with the force of their original meanings. The energy of his writing expresses itself most remarkably in his inventive use of verbs: He knows how to make their action count.

The mere existence of this book is, of course, a testament to its author's perseverance and a realization of his dream of being a voice for the voiceless by showing the fullness of lives that are casually dismissed as ``lesser.'' It is also a gracious tribute to the people who did not dismiss him: to his school friends, to the imaginative teachers - at Dublin's Central Remedial Clinic School, at Mount Temple Comprehensive, and at Trinity College, Dublin - and most of all to his family, who provided unconditional love and support. But perhaps the most lasting impression one gets from this book is of the appetite for experience it conveys so engagingly and infectiously.

Merle Rubin reviews books regularly for the Monitor.

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