Even before Angela's Ashes
won the Pulitzer
Prize for autobiography, it was the most talked about memoir of the nineties. In fact, Angela's Ashes
was one of the most highly acclaimed books of the decade, winning also the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Abby Award, and the Los Angeles Times
Book Award. Though some might attribute the success of Angela's Ashes
to the extreme circumstances of his story ("the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious
defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years...")
Is there another memoir so utterly effecting as Angela's Ashes? McCourt's hilarious yet devastating recounting of his Irish Catholic childhood overwhelmed by poverty is in a league by itself. Exploring themes of alcoholism, religious hypocrisy, parenting done both well and poorly, coming of age, both the annoyance and safety of family, the power of stories, the human capacity for suffering, and a scathing condemnation of poverty, McCourt somehow manages to make his heartbreaking story side-splitting as well. I've never read anything that has made me want to simultaneously weep and cackle with uncontrollable laughter more than this book. McCourt's compelling prose will keep you hanging on every word. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Now a major motion picture from Paramount and Universal Pictures International.
The #1 national bestseller. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the ABBY Award.
"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 luminous 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.
"Angela's Ashes owes its widespread appeal to
Frank McCourt's exceptional skills as a storyteller.
Certainly, destitution made a lousy babysitter. The mischievous and resourceful McCourt children were often perceived as filthy little hooligans. Nonetheless, a miserable Irish Catholic childhood does provide a number of great anecdotes. And in McCourt's confident hands, his otherwise grim upbringing is as hilarious and poignant as it is troubling." Lilus, Powells.com
Now the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of growing up poor and Catholic in Ireland is available in a movie-tie-in edition, just in time for the holiday release from Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures International. The movie is directed by Academy Award-winning Alan Parker and stars Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle.
About the Author
Frank McCourt returned to America when he was nineteen. For many years, he was an English teacher at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. The sequel to Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, will be published in the fall of 1999. McCourt lives in Connecticut.