frank mccourt

Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, T’is, and Teacher Man, died at the age 78 over the weekend.  It’s always sad to hear of the death of someone you respect and appreciate, but McCourt’s death seems particularly so; although many would consider 78 years to be a long life, and although he accomplished much in those years, after so many hardships during his younger years, it’s really too bad he couldn’t have enjoyed his late-in-life successes longer. For though McCourt is now a well-known name in the literary world, it wasn’t until 1996 that his first book was published.  Angela’s Ashes, the story of his impoverished childhood in Ireland, won the Pulitzer in 1997 and became a bestseller.  Up until that time, McCoury made his living by teaching in the New York public schools; a rewarding career, I don’t doubt, but not one particulary known for its financial incentives.

But these decades did provide the material for McCourt’s third and final book, Teacher Man, which happens to be my favorite of the three.  Angela’s Ashes is both beautifully heartbreaking and touchingly funny, and certainly deserving of the many awards it won.  I have to admit to not quite finishing T’is; like McCourt’s other books, it’s told in a sincere and humorous voice, but with a few slow points that made it just possible to put down and not pick back up. 

But I couldn’t put Teacher Man down at all.  Perhaps it was because I read it while I was teaching, but I found it to be the funniest, most true-to-life of the three.  I certainly don’t doubt McCourt’s experiences told in his earlier books, but the times and cities they took place in were distant to me and harder to relate to.  But a high school classroom?  It appears those don’t change much.  As a first-year English teacher, I could relate entirely to the struggles McCourt encountered at the beginning of his teaching profession. 

I’d recommend all three to anyone (and do plan to finish T’is myself at some point), but for anyone who is teaching or considering teaching as a career, Teacher Man should be required reading.  Because it’s good to know that even someone as brilliant as Frank McCourt had sandwiches thrown at him.

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~ by Molly on July 20, 2009.

One Response to “frank mccourt”

  1. I definitely need to read Teacher Man sooner rather than later. I adored both Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis, both of which I’ve read in the last year. Thanks for the review!

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