By William Grimes
New York Times
Christopher Nolan, an Irish writer who, mute and quadriplegic since birth, produced a highly praised volume of verse and short stories at 15 and went on to publish a prize-winning autobiography, “Under the Eye of the Clock,” died Friday in Dublin. He was 43 and lived in Sutton, near Dublin.
Christopher Nolan in 1988 with his autobiography. It won the prestigious Whitbread Prize and was followed by a novel.
His death was confirmed by a condolence message from the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese. His family told the Irish and British press that he died after food became trapped in his airway.
Oxygen deprivation during a difficult delivery left Mr. Nolan physically helpless, able to communicate with family members only through eye movements. At 11, supplied with a new drug to relax his neck muscles, he began writing with a “unicorn stick” strapped to his forehead, pecking a letter at a time on a typewriter as his mother held his chin with her hands.
The brain that one doctor had predicted would remain infantile turned out to contain a distinctive literary voice awaiting release.
“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 told The Observer of London in 1987. “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.”