When it came to choosing an award winning book for my grade 12 English class independent study project, my teacher suggested that I read Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s Ashes. She said that the book was about poverty in Ireland, and that was all the motivation that I needed to choose the book as the main piece in my anthology on poverty. It was either the same day, or soon afterwards when I dropped by my favourite used bookstore, Casablanca, where luckily I found a very decent copy of the memoir.
I’m typically a slow reader, but I devoured Angela’s Ashes. It wasn’t the suspense in Frank’s story, but rather the sheer sadness that kept me reading. Frank broke many rules of writing in his book, and I respected him for that. At that time I was struggling with my English mark, and to have a Pulitzer Prize winning book in my hands, that reads a hundred times better than any other “perfectly” written piece, was the best proof that sometimes you don’t have to stick to the rules to produce amazing results.
Frank told about his drunk dad, the Catholic Church, the lack of food his family had, the pride of the Irish, all in his special anecdotal style that leaves you crying and laughing at the same time. Angela’s Ashes had the tone of a 6 year old narrator, which brilliantly gave the book the extra realism. At the end of Frank’s journey in Angela’s Ashes he ends up going to New York on a freight ship, and this is where Franks second book, ‘Tis, commenced.
I conveniently picked ‘Tis as the main novel for my grade 13 English class independent study. Nothing beats reading a book that you actually like for a school project. The project I did on ‘Tis was a travel brochure to NYC, written by Frank McCourt. I earned a 93% on it…
A few years later I was grocery shopping with my mom when I saw Teacher Man, Frank’s last memoir. I wanted to pick it up, but the thought of reading his last book left me sad. The same sadness somebody feels when he watches the last episode of a TV series, or when he reads the last sentence in an amazing book. I wanted to save Teacher Man for at least a few years down the line. I kept the book in mind and continued shopping.
A few weeks ago a friend came to visit me in Toronto, and she had a gift for me. The gift as you might have guessed was Teacher Man. I couldn’t wait to read it, and I ended up reading the first chapter that night before bed. When I get the chance to read it I can never put it down, and the next morning I’m struggling out of bed. The book is written in McCourt’s classic style, full of anecdotes, honest, and funny. Although I have a short subway ride to work one day I decided to bring it along and read whatever I can. At work I put the book on my bag on the floor just so I don’t forget to take it home at the end of the day. At about midday, after coming back from a coffee break, the person working behind me turns around and tells me that the school on the cover of the book was his old high school, and that McCourt actually taught his sister. I meant to ask him more about what he knows about McCourt, what his sister told him about his teaching, but my boss came over and interrupted the conversation…
technorati tags: Frank, McCourt, memoir, six, degrees, of, seperation, Irish, NYC, literature
Labels: culture, everyday life, memories, toronto