Publication Date: September 1996
Categories: Ethnic Cultures, Memoir, Historical
Source: My own copy
“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.
Why haven’t I read this before now? I’ll let you in on a little secret about me. I avoid the hype. When the world raves about something I stay away from it. Not all
the time, but most
of the time. So, when this book first came out I probably put on my snooty little hat and decided not to read it until the crazy died down.
Pulitzer Prize? Hmph!
Why do I do that? Am I snobby? Do I think I’m too cool to like something that other people like? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m pissed off at myself for not reading Angela’s Ashes sooner.
What a stunning, heartbreaking piece of work it is. Oh my word. The writing is acute, vivid and just so GOOD. There were times that I laughed and laughed at some phrase by McCourt. Then there were times that I wanted to cry and cry because people kept dying.
Omg. Please stop the sad.
What else can I say about this book that hasn’t been said a million times before? It’s glorious. It’s genius. Angela’s Ashes deserved the hype. If you haven’t read it yet please do so. You won’t regret it.