[1930 - ]
Profile created November 16, 2006
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir (1996) --
Winner 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award;
"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed
to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy
childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable
childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable
Irish Catholic childhood."
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in
Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums
of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the
children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he
drinks his wages. Yet Malachy-- exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling--
does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.
Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of
the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival.
Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and
gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty,
near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors--yet lives
to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela's Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank
McCourt's astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all
the marks of a classic.
- Frank McCourt's glorious childhood memoir, Angela's
Ashes, has been loved and celebrated by readers everywhere for its
spirit, its wit, and its profound humanity. It won the National Book Critics
Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the Pulitzer
Prize. And now we have 'Tis, the story of Frank's American journey
from impoverished immigrant to brilliant teacher and raconteur. The same
vulnerable but invincible spirit that captured the hearts of readers in
Angela's Ashes comes of age. Frank McCourt's 'Tis is one of the
most eagerly awaited books of our time, and it is a masterpiece.
- Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely
star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with
Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in
Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, his glorious account of his early years
in New York.
Teacher Man (2005)
Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book about how
his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher
Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited
prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt
records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools
around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates
a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he
instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"),
sing-alongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips
(imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!).
McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and
spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting
his own story to paper. Teacher Man shows McCourt developing his
unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five
periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly,
hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents. McCourt's rocky marriage, his
failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated
firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead
him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he
finally finds a place and a voice. "Doggedness," he says, is "not as
glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one
thing that got me through the days and nights."
For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation,
and in Teacher Man the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an
Set in Ireland around the turn of the 20th century;
will be based on a story from the childhood of his mother, Angela,
concerning "the baby Jesus on the altar" of a local church near the family
home in Limerick.
Angela and the Baby Jesus (2007 release)
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