Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

Simon and Schuster, 17 . 1998 . - : 368
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A Pulitzer Prizewinning, #1 New York Times bestseller, Angelas Ashes is Frank McCourts masterful memoir of his childhood in Ireland.

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. Franks mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Franks father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachyexasperating, irresponsible, and beguilingdoes nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his fathers 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 Franks survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pigs 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 neighborsyet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.

Angelas Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourts astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.

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 (1998)

Frank McCourt (19302009) was born 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 New York City high schools. His first book, Angelas Ashes, won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. In 2006, he won the prestigious Ellis Island Family Heritage Award for Exemplary Service in the Field of the Arts and the United Federation of Teachers John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education.