A compelling and luminous autobiography by the 21-year-old Irish writer whom cerebral palsy left paralyzed and mute at birth. Writing in the third person, Nolan (Dem-Burst of Dreams, 1982) projects himself in the character of ""Joseph Meecham."" Joseph is possessed by an intense creative drive and ability, yet is often mistaken as retarded because he lacks all but the most rudimentary control over his own body. The bulk of the story centers on the teen-aged Joseph's effort to fit into a ""normal"" school in Dublin, and his determined struggle to master the physical mechanics of writing so that he can express his bursting but pent-up vision. With a keenly observant eye, Nolan records the reactions of teachers and schoolmates, most of whom, to his great astonishment and joy, soon accept and treat the severely crippled boy as an equal. Joseph's family too figures large in the narrative--his firm and patient mother Nora, who is his first voice to the world; his lather Matthew, who recites poetry and sings Italian arias; and his sister Yvonne, who in typical sisterly fashion constantly teases him. They care for but do not coddle him, get on with their own able-bodied lives, and enable Joseph to participate in the able-bodied world, as portrayed in a book vivid with childhood epiphanies: Joseph on holiday exploring the strange West-of-Ireland landscape, riding in a boat his father has made, cutting classes with his friends. Nolan writes with a mixture of irony and warmth, self-deprecation and compassion, a quintessentially Irish sense of humor, and no self-pity--all of which makes for a strangely exhilarating, not depressing, story. If his anecdotal style is sometimes digressive, the tension is yet sustained throughout. Far more than typical movie-of-the-week fare, and winner of the 1987 Whitbread Award for autobiography.