At the end of this account of his early life Frank O'Connor says that story-telling, for him, is the celebration of those who represented all he should ever know of God. The statement is not only a dramatic one, and a little melancholy, but it expresses the humanist attitudes and characteristics of O'Connor's writing. In Only Child is a book of special value apart from the appeal it will have for those familiar with the author's work. Frank O'Connor's childhood was an unhappy one. His mother's gaiety was a kind of disguise, unknown even to herself, for the terrible insecurity of her early life. His father, an ex-soldier, was a brooding drunkard who couldn't take very kindly to the solemn little Momma's boy who patterned himself after the English public school heroes he read about in the boys' weeklles. But if Mick Donovan was a trial to his wife and son he and his family were at least colorful and the author writes of them and their extraordinary neighbors with appreciation and some affection. He recalls his abominable school years, his desperate attempts to educate himself -- which were both comic and pathetic, and the teacher and Republican who was both mentor and friend. He writes of his escapades with the Republican volunteers (after the Easter Rebellion), and his imprisonment and he ends the account with his realization that, as a man, he would never be at home with the people he loved, their religion and their unfathomable patriotism. There is much in this story that would be unbearably bitter, if its author were less honest and more vain.