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Angela's Ashes - a memoir
by Frank McCourt
1 About the book - a short summary
This book is also the biography of its author, written from the innocent perspective of young Frank:
,,When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived 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." (Angela's Ashes, page 1)
Frank's mother Angela is from Limerick, Ireland and sent to New York by her mother, because she thinks Angela is pure useless. There she meets Malachy who is from the north of Ireland and had to leave the country. They get married and after four years of marriage, five children and no money, the family moves back to Ireland. As tough as life had been for the McCourts in New York, it doesn't compare to the hardships they encounter in their native country.
Frank only knows his new home country from stories. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel from the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies. Perhaps it is the stories that account for Frank's survival.
In the slums of Limerick, most people are strict Catholics, a lot of them because the church is the only dry place in town. Here Frank learns what it means to be poor, Catholic and Irish. Frank's father rarely has a job and when he does, he spends his wages in the pubs, leaving Frank's mother, Angela, to beg from churches and charity organizations.
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.
Frank's dream is to go back to America some day. When he is nineteen, he has finally earned enough money for the fare to go back to the country where he was born.
2 Behind the book - reviews and reactions
,, Angela's Ashes contains some of the loveliest language I`ve ever read. It is both hilarious and utterly heartbreaking...
McCourt has an astonishing gift for remembering the details of his childhood. And for writing." (USA Today)
McCourt has taken notes about his life since he was little and he has always wanted to write this book. His mother and brothers eventually followed him to America. "I could never have written this book while my mother was alive," he says with respect. "She would not have liked it. We were always ashamed to have grown up in the slums She suffered a lot She was a depressed and angry woman."
The book is called Angela's Ashes, because McCourt wanted to finish it by 1981 when his mother had died and her ashes were brought back to Limerick.
This book is available in 25 languages and was selled over 6 million times in 30 countries all over the world. Frank McCourt was the winner of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award in Biography/Autobiography, The Boston Book Review`s Non-Fiction prize, the ABBY Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Time Magazine and Newsweek chose Angela`s Ashes as the best nonfiction book of 1996.
The sequel of Angela's Ashes, named `Tis came out in spring, 1999. It covers the time from his return to the United States to his retirement from teaching ten years ago.
The Alan Parker film of Angela`s Ashes, starring Emily Watson, was released in November of 1999.
3 The author - biography
1930 Frank McCourt was born as the oldest son of Irish immigrants in Brooklyn during the Great Depression.
1934 After Frank's little sister has died, The family moves to Ireland with Frank, his brother Malachy and his twin brothers Oliver and Eugene.
Frank grows up in the slums of Limerick. Oliver and Eugene die during the first few months in Ireland, there are two more boys born, Michael and Alphie.
Frank goes to Leamy`s National School until the age of thirteen.
1944 For the next two years Frank works as a telegramm boy in Limerick where he earns money for his family and saves some of it for his fare to America.
1946 The last three years in Limerick Frank works for a company delivering newspapers and magazines until he has enough money to go to America by the age of nineteen.
1949 Frank is back in New York where he becomes a writing teacher and teaches in the New York City public schools for twenty-seven years, the last seventeen of which are spent at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan.
After retiring from teaching, Frank and his brother, Malachy, perform their two-man show, A Couple of Blaguards, a musical review about their Irish youth.
1996 Frank's childhood memoir, Angela's Ashes, which spent 117 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, is published.
Today Frank lives in Connecticut with his wife, Ellen.
Quellen: McCourt, Frank: Angela's Ashes
- Quote paper
- Martina N. (Author), 2000, McCourt, Frank - Angela`s Ashes, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/98363