Angela s Ashes a memoir of a childhood, Frank McCourtAngela s Ashes A Memoir is a 1996 memoir by the Irish American author Frank McCourt, with various anecdotes and stories of his childhood It details his very early childhood in Brooklyn, New York, but focuses primarily on his life in Limerick, Ireland It also includes his struggles with poverty and his father s alcoholism 2001 1377 20 1379 600 9643210529 1385 9789643210526 13933 1378 518 9649174877 1380 618 9649345469 1384 470 1996 1997 1999 2005 Imbued On Every Page With Frank McCourt S Astounding Humor And Compassion This Is A Glorious Book That Bears All The Marks Of A Classic 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 Pulitzer Prize Winning 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 I think I read Angela s Ashes by Frank McCourt initially when the book was first published In high school at the time, my mother and I shared books I was introduced to all of her favorite authors that way and most of these authors I still read now One author who was new to both of us at the time was New York school teacher Frank McCourt who published a memoir of his life growing up in Brooklyn and Limerick, Ireland As with most books from that era, I had vague recollections because I spent the next twenty years finishing high school and college and raising a family books I read in high school were not at the forefront of my mind Since my youngest daughter transitioned to a full school day three years ago, I have gone back and read all of those forgotten to me books from high school through adult eyes The experience has been for the most part positive with only a few books that stand out as disliking With my ongoing lifetime Pulitzer challenge focusing on nonfiction winners this year, I decided to finally turn my attention back to Angela s Ashes and found it a worthy book indeed Angela Sheehan immigrated to America from Limerick, Ireland at the onset of the Depression Life in the slums of Limerick was unbearable even for a champion ballroom dancer like Angela Immediately after stepping off the boat, Angela meets Malachy McCourt and becomes pregnant by him Being good Catholics, the couple gets married Five months later, Frank is born, followed in close succession by Malachy, twins Oliver and Eug ne, and Margaret Malachy the father is a chronic drunk and spends all of his wages on drinks in local pubs The children have no food, Margaret dies from SIDS, the twins wear rags for diapers, and Angela is inconsolable At the urging of cousins, the family emigrates back to Limerick because as destitute as life is there, the McCourts will be among family who can support them in their desperate hour Ireland and its green land of the River Shannon and Cuchulain the hero who died for the country do not solve Malachy s drinking problem He can barely hold a job and Angela and the children still have barely any food to eat The children still wear rags for diapers and the family shares two beds in flea and lice infested apartments where an entire building shares one bathroom The twins succumb to illness and all is too much for Angela to handle Her mother and sister have no sympathy for her situation and the family is relegated to going on the dole and asking for handouts at St Vincent of the Destitute The McCourts eventually move to a home at the top of Roden Lane It is as decrepit as their other homes but at least no one died there despite having one lavatory for the entire street that is right outside of their home Although a chronic drunk, Malachy makes the best of the situation naming the downstairs portion of their home Ireland and the upstairs Italy The children rarely have food but at least they have each other and stories told of old Ireland by the fireplace each morning Frank and Malachy and eventually surviving brothers Michael and Alphonsus attend the Leamy National School for the poor Run by priests, it is a quality education despite the fact that most of the boys rarely eat, wear dilapidated shoes, and have parents who survive on the dole or handouts The River Shannon and its environs sickens the air and Frank can name many friends and acquaintances who have died over the years of consumption Yet, despite the horrendous upbringing that Frank McCourt knew, Angela s Ashes had me laughing over the course of the book as he used humor to get through the darkest of situations of his life His uncle Pa Keating was quite the character and interactions with him had me in stitches Frank s fear of confession to the priests and then his time in confession was also laced with comedy, as were most every other episode in the memoir, including dance lessons and mooching off school to run in an apple orchard with friends If the situation was not so dire, perhaps comedy would not have been needed, yet Frank McCourt had a gift with words even as a kid It was this gift that had his mother and other relatives telling him that he would go far in life in spite of the environs of Limerick during the darkest days of both the Depression and World War II With a drunk father and destitute mother, Frank desired to go to America as soon as he had the means to do so By age nineteen, he sailed on a reverse trip back to New York and Frank was in America to stay Eventually Malachy would follow and they would develop a comedic act for two about growing up poor in Ireland Angela s Ashes, despite the impoverished environment that it describes, is one of the most inspiring books I have read How could anyone have an attitude other than positive and expect to rise from the slums of Limerick and make something of one s life Frank McCourt could find humor in any situation, even one that saw his parents bury three children and live for nearly twenty years on public assistance Angela s Ashes brings to light this horrendous situation and has me realize that even though the United States was also hit by depression, it is still the land of opportunity for people around the globe, the McCourts included Thankfully, Frank McCourt reached New York and eventually told his story to the world, offering a beacon of light in even the darkest of times 5 stars There once was a lad reared in Limerick,Quite literally without a bone to pick.
His da used scant earningsTo slake liquid yearnings In American parlance a dick.
To get past a father who drankIn a place that was dismal and dank,He wrote not in rhymes,But of those shite times A memoir that filled up his bank.
But the worst offender of the last twenty years has to be the uniquely meretricious drivel that constitutes Angela s Ashes Dishonest at every level, slimeball McCourt managed to parlay his mawkish maunderings to commercial success, presumably because the particular assortment of rainsodden cliches hawked in the book not only dovetails beautifully with the stereotypes lodged in the brain of every American of Irish descent, but also panders to the lummoxes collective need to feel superior because they have managed to transcend their primitive, bog soaked origins, escaping the grinding poverty imagined in the book, to achieve what Spiritual fulfilment in the split level comfort of a Long Island ranch home And Frankie the pimp misses not a beat, tailoring his mendacity to warp the portrayal of reality in just the way his audience likes No native Irish reader, myself included, has anything but the deepest contempt for this particular exercise in literary prostitution and the cynical weasel responsible for it my apologies to the fine people of Long Island, for the unnecessary vehemence of the implied slur in the above review clearly it is not meant to be all encompassing If you had the luck of the Irish You d be sorry and wish you was dead If you had the luck of the Irish Then you d wish you was English instead How can ONE book be so WONDERFUL and so HORRIBLE at the same time I have no idea But this book is both Big time It s difficult to imagine anything worse than a childhood crushed under the oppressive conditions of abject poverty, relentless filth and unmitigated suffering The childhood described in this book is the worst I ve ever encountered The lucky children suffer injuries or illnesses that due to poverty go untreated and result in death The rest suffer miserable existences Actually, suffer and miserable are not adequate to describe the experience The children in Angela s Ashes would have traded their lives for a life of merely suffering a miserable childhood in a heartbeat.
And yet, somehow, Frank McCourt achieves a brilliant feat in this book He tells a horrific story that caused me to cringe, grind my teeth, cry and loose sleep worrying This book affected me physically It was beyond upsetting But McCourt wrote it in a way that kept me reading As depressing as it was I could not put it down McCourt s writing is mesmerizing.
This autobiographical book about Frank McCourt s childhood is so lyrical and well written that I fell in love with it by the time I was on the second page And then it seriously took my heart and ripped it into little shreds and stomped on the remains.
When I read Angela s Ashes my children were really young, about the ages of Frank and his siblings at the start of the book I found the story of their neglect filled childhood in New York and Ireland with a helpless mother and an alcoholic father who spends his odd paychecks, as well as their welfare payments, in the pubs and lets his family starve and children die so harrowing that I literally shoved the book under my bed after I d read about a hundred pages and tried to forget what I d read It was at least a couple of months before I could bring myself to pull it back out again and finish it Life got better for Frank McCourt as he got older, and I managed to finish the book without tears, but it s that heartwrenching first part of this book that really sticks in my memory years later.
What, did NO one find this book funny except me I must be really perverse.
Although the account of Frank s bad eyes was almost physically painful to read, the rest of the story didn t seem too odd or sad or overdone to me My dad s family were immigrants his father died young of cirrhosis of the liver, leaving my grandmother to raise her six living children of a total of 13 on a cleaning woman s pay So Life was hard They weren t Irish and they lived in New York, but when you hear that your dad occasionally trapped pigeons and roasted them to eat, you develop a certain, er, resistance to tales of woe They worked hard and did the best they could And in between, life could be really, really funny That s how I saw this book After reading some of the reviews here, I m beginning to think I read a different book Or that I m completely odd, which is much likely.