Synopses & Reviews
“The events of a single episode of Howard Normans superb memoir are both on the edge of chaos and gathered superbly into coherent meaning . . . A wise, riskily written, beautiful book.” — Michael Ondaatje
Howard Normans spellbinding memoir begins with a portrait, both harrowing and hilarious, of a Midwest boyhood summer working in a bookmobile, in the shadow of a grifter father and under the erotic tutelage of his brothers girlfriend. His life story continues in places as far-flung as the Arctic, where he spends part of a decade as a translator of Inuit tales—including the story of a soapstone carver turned into a goose whose migration-time lament is “I hate to leave this beautiful place”—and in his beloved Point Reyes, California, as a student of birds. Years later, in Washington, D.C., an act of deeply felt violence occurs in the form of a murder-suicide when Norman and his wife loan their home to a poet and her young son. In Normans hands, lifes arresting strangeness is made into a profound, creative, and redemptive story.
“Uses the tight focus of geography to describe five unsettling periods of his life, each separated by time and subtle shifts in his narrative voice . . . The originality of his telling here is as surprising as ever.” — Washington Post
“These stories almost seem like tall tales themselves, but Norman renders them with a journalistic attention to detail. Amidst these bizarre experiences, he finds solace through the places hes lived and their quirky inhabitants, human and avian.” — The New Yorker
"This final memoir in the trilogy that started with Angela's Ashes and continued in 'Tis focuses almost exclusively on McCourt's 30-year teaching career in New York City's public high schools, which began at McKee Vocational and Technical in 1958. His first day in class, a fight broke out and a sandwich was hurled in anger. McCourt immediately picked it up and ate it. On the second day of class, McCourt's retort about the Irish and their sheep brought the wrath of the principal down on him. All McCourt wanted to do was teach, which wasn't easy in the jumbled bureaucracy of the New York City school system. Pretty soon he realized the system wasn't run by teachers but by sterile functionaries. 'I was uncomfortable with the bureaucrats, the higher-ups, who had escaped classrooms only to turn and bother the occupants of those classrooms, teachers and students. I never wanted to fill out their forms, follow their guidelines, administer their examinations, tolerate their snooping, adjust myself to their programs and courses of study.' As McCourt matured in his job, he found ingenious ways to motivate the kids: have them write 'excuse notes' from Adam and Eve to God; use parts of a pen to define parts of a sentence; use cookbook recipes to get the students to think creatively. A particularly warming and enlightening lesson concerns a class of black girls at Seward Park High School who felt slighted when they were not invited to see a performance of Hamlet, and how they taught McCourt never to have diminished expectations about any of his students. McCourt throws down the gauntlet on education, asserting that teaching is more than achieving high test scores. It's about educating, about forming intellects, about getting people to think. McCourt's many fans will of course love this book, but it also should be mandatory reading for every teacher in America. And it wouldn't hurt some politicians to read it, too." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] voyage of discovery for students and teacher and, ultimately, all who read this marvelous book. A particular interest in the teaching profession is not required: Teacher Man relates to us all. Every bit as good as Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, this is highly recommended." Mark Bay, Library Journal
"McCourt has produced a collection of aphorisms that will grace classroom posters till the last red pen runs dry. ("You'd be better off as a cop. At least you'd have a gun or a stick to defend yourself. A teacher has nothing but his mouth.") And at most, he's described the teacher we all wish we'd had." Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"[A]nother easily embraceable memoir.... His trademark charm, wit, and unself-conscious self-effacement ensure that the flashbacks of his dreadful days growing up in extreme deprivation in Ireland don't sink the narrative in self-pity." Brad Hooper, Booklist
"Moving out of the poor Irish lanes of his childhood and now into the high school classrooms of New York City, Frank McCourt exchanges one garden of suffering for another, but always with a comic eye, a sympathetic heart, and the perfect timing of a master story-teller. Teacher Man is a cry from the barricades of public education and should be required reading not just for all teachers but for anyone who ever set foot in a high school. Happily, there will be no test."
Since the publication of Angela's Ashes nearly a decade ago, Frank McCourt has become one of literature's superstars. He is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Booksellers Association ABBY Award, and the Los Angeles Times
Book Award. More than four million copies of Angela's Ashes
are now in print; its sequel, 'Tis
, has sold more than two million in America; and the books have been published in more than twenty countries and languages.
In Teacher Man Frank turns his attention to the subject that he most often talks about in his lectures-teaching: why it's so important, why it's so undervalued. He describes his own coming of age as a teacher, a storyteller, and, ultimately, a writer. He is alternately humble and mischievous, downtrodden and rebellious. He instinctively identifies with the underdog; his sympathies lie more with students than administrators. It takes him almost fifteen years to find his voice in the classroom, but what's clear in the thrilling pages of Teacher Man is that from the beginning he seizes and holds his students' attention by telling them memorable stories. And then it takes him another fifteen years to find his voice on the page.
With all the wit, charm, irreverence, and poignancy that made Angela's Ashes and 'Tis so universally beloved, Frank McCourt tells his most exhilarating story yet how he became a writer.
Here at last in paperback is Frank McCourt's critically acclaimed and bestselling book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. andlt;iandgt;Teacher Manandlt;/iandgt; is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises of teaching in public high schools. andlt;iandgt;Teacher Manandlt;/iandgt; shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in andlt;iandgt;Teacher Manandlt;/iandgt; the journey to redemption--and literary fame--is an exhilarating adventure.
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, mega-bestselling author who wore his celebrity with extraordinary grace comes a magnificently appealing book about teaching and about how one great storyteller found his voice.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with andlt;Iandgt;Angela's Ashes,andlt;/Iandgt; the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came andlt;Iandgt;'Tis,andlt;/Iandgt; his glorious account of his early years in New York.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Now, here at last is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. andlt;Iandgt;Teacher Manandlt;/Iandgt; is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and compelling honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faced in the classroom. andlt;Iandgt;Teacher Manandlt;/Iandgt; shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he worked to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in andlt;Iandgt;Teacher Manandlt;/Iandgt; the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an exhilarating adventure.
A memoir of the haunting and redemptive events of the acclaimed writers life—the betrayal of a con-man father; a murder-suicide in his familys house; the presence of an oystercatcher—each one, as the saying goes, stranger than fiction.
About the Author
Frank McCourt was born in 1931 in Brooklyn, New York, to Irish immigrant parents; grew up in Limerick, Ireland, and returned to America in 1949. For thirty years he taught in various New York City high schools, including Stuyvesant, and in city colleges. He lives with his wife, Ellen, in New York City and Connecticut.