This is a five star read. The second book is maybe in quality terms four star, as it's a posthumous volume which would no doubt have been edited more tightly but in terms of enjoyment it is another stormer. The first book takes you through a very hard upbringing in Cork at the start of the 20th century. However, It doesn't dwell on the hardship which forms a background to the stumbling education of an unworldly boy in a harsh world. This being O'Connor narrating, it is all far more amusing than it sounds. He then proceeds into his simultaneous arrival in Cork's artistic community and the Civil War Republican army. As we move into his capture and internment, the start of his disillusionment with the Catholic Republican government is written large.
The second part has two streams - first his artistic life and his relationship with two older men AE and Yeats and secondly his relationship with his father. The stories of Dublin gossip, backbiting and again of the slow freeze from de Valera's repressive government are utterly fascinating. It comes to an abrupt end with Yeats' death. It's just a shame he didn't live to complete it.