This is the second volume of Anthony Burgess's autobiography (the first was Little Wilson and Big God). The narrative begins in 1959, with the author's return from Brunei and the start of a professional writing career and ends in 1982 with the centenary celebrations of James Joyce's birth, which prompt the author to certain conclusions about the relationship between literature and life.
Between the years chronicled Anthony Burgess, initially believing he has only a year to live, begins to write - novels, film scripts, television series, articles. It is the life of a man desperate to earn a living through the written word. He finds at first that writing brings little success, and the obligations it brings, interfere with his writing - especially of fiction. There were vast Hollywood projects destined never to be made, novels the critics snarled at, journalism that scandalised the morally scrupulous.