Written 13 years after his first autobiography, "My Left Foot", this is an autobiographical novel, set in Dublin during the '40s and '50s. The author, who died in 1981, was born a spastic and for the first six years of his life could not walk, talk nor control any of his limbs.
". . . dazed and defeated faces. . . bottles of wine and whiskey. . . strange men arriving at all hours of the day and night with black diamonds already sewn into their coat sleeves. . . the meals that seemed to go on and on. . . . " Thus - down all the days and nights of a large Irish working class family, as the protagonist, a spastic cripple, observes the terrible defeating contest of men and women, the chaos of harsh assaults, "tremendous and tyrannical because unspoken, unvoiced, unfaced. . . . " There was Father, an unremitting storm of abuse and blows; Mother, her tenderness and docility stifling the very love she could give but never take; the proud and fragile Lil; the sturdy boys obsessed with the cataclysm of sex; the dim scrapping presence of the other children. And there are neighbors: the scabrous Red Magoo exulting over the undoubted eternal punishment of her newly deceased husband; funereal, tippling crones; old soldiers of the Revolution; the young at the flood of life or the brink of decay. From his "boxcar," the cripple observes cruelty, grief and straining desires in others and within himself. When his father dies, he at last remembers one moment when he almost articulated his anger and defiance. But like all the others here he is "held by invisible chains." Mr. Brown has a fine fictional sense; an ability to people a void convincingly with ferocity and skill; and his abiding humanity softens and heightens the purgatorial landscape. (Kirkus Reviews)