Nolan had severe cerebral palsy from birth trauma, meaning he suffered brain damage as a result of being deprived of oxygen during birth. His book is a landmark of disability literature, and among the best memoirs I have ever read. It was published in 1987, very early on in my own exploration of disability, so it had a profound effect on me.
Here's an obituary from New Mobility magazine.
Christopher Nolan, the Irish poet and author whose autobiographical novel, Under the Eye of the Clock, became a classic in modern disability literature, died Feb. 20 at his home near Dublin. He was 43.
Born with cerebral palsy, Nolan first began to write using a headstick at age 11. At 15 he published his first book, Dam-Burst of Dreams, a collection of poems and short stories that garnered praise from critics, many of whom drew comparisons to the work of James Joyce. "My mind is like a spin-dryer at full speed, my thoughts fly around my skull while millions of beautiful words cascade down in my lap," he once told the London Observer. "Images gunfire across my consciousness and while trying to discipline them I jump in awe at the soul-filled bounty of my mind's expanse."
Under the Eye of the Clock, published in 1987, is an often-humorous account of the author's life and struggles to write, told in the third person by a narrator named Joseph Meehan. It won the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year Award and was later adapted into a stage play, Torchlight and Lazer Beams. A second book, The Banyan Tree, was published in 1999.
Despite interest from Hollywood, Nolan refused to allow Under the Eye to be adapted into a film, fearing a big-screen treatment would be too sentimental. To one producer he wrote, "I want to highlight the creativity within the brain of a cripple, and while not attempting to hide the crippledom I want instead to filter all sob-storied sentiment from his portrait and dwell upon his life, his laughter, his vision, and his nervous normality."
The U2 song "Miracle Drug" is about Christopher Nolan; he attended high school with members of the band.