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FRANK MCOURT REMEMBERED IN THE IRISH TIMES

 
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 08:08 pm
The author of Angela's Ashes has died of metastatic melanoma . The Irish Times (20/7/09) has recalled this author, whose fame came late in life.
Quote:
FAME CAME late to Frank McCourt. At the age of 66, he became a literary phenomenon when he took two of life’s most potent ingredients " tragedy and humour " and turned them into a best-selling memoir-novel that caught the public imagination and brought its author international recognition that reached its height with the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

With its focus on a bygone Ireland, Angela’s Ashes did for the Limerick of his working-class childhood what O’Casey had done for Dublin and its tenements " but without the ideological polemic. Like O’Casey, he was first and foremost a storyteller who could hold and transport his legions of devotees. With his intense love of language, he had what was once described as “the perfect Irish brogue: lyrical but penetrable”.

As a memoirist he can be credited with the re-creation of a genre " misery lit " that went on to have a succession of lesser imitators. His more significant legacy, however, is that he took into the realm of book-reading a new audience which might otherwise not have discovered the value and pleasure of literature.

While McCourt became synonymous with Limerick, it came as little surprise that his autobiographical account of poverty and squalor did not initially receive a similarly enthusiastic reception in the city where the book was set. McCourt himself recalled his “epic of woe” as having been “denounced from hill, pulpit and bar stool”.

Posterity, as always, will be the final arbiter on McCourt’s literary merits, but as a record of a time and a place and the grim circumstances of a past generation " even with its hints of literary embellishment and tinted perspective " Angela’s Ashes will endure as a significant and evocative social document.

But it should not be forgotten that his subsequent books " ‘Tis and Teacher Man " are worthy additions to the literature of emigration; his personal life straddled the Irish-American experience and was a wonderful triumph of the human spirit overcoming the adversities handed to him in his Limerick youth while his family’s return to the United States opened to him the possibilities of the American dream which he embraced with the determination of a true survivor to become not only an accomplished writer but also an inspirational teacher in New York. As well as his charm and wit, perhaps McCourt’s most endearing characteristic was reflected in the New York Times review of Angela’s Ashes when it noted that he looked back on his tough formative experiences “with no trace of bitterness”.



My favorite lines by Mcourt were spoken on "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross (NPR).
"The worst thing that happened to the Irish Nation wasnt from British Rule. It was the CAtholic Church that held(and holds) that distinction.
The Jews have no idea about the feeling of guilt. At least they dont have a hell to worry about. We, as a poor Catholic Nation , had , as best spoken by Joyce, The fear of a hell that was encased in a wall a million feet thick, and searing at a million degrees, watched and tormented by a million demons for a million million years"
OF COURSE I EMBELLISHED IT CAUSE I HATE JOYCES WACKY STYLE


HARD TO GET HAPPY WITH THAT IN YOUR CHILDHOOD. Mcourt was one of the greatest witnesses of the rampant excesses of the CAtholic Church on the laity. As such, he became one of my favorite "investigative Reporters" and chroniclers of life in a world ruled by Holy Mother the Church.

Ive always wondered why I seemed so fucked up.Mcourt said it best, and said it most precisely. IMHO.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 3,745 • Replies: 33
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mac11
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 08:14 pm
Ah, he was a great writer. I'm sorry to hear that he's died. Makes me want to go back and read all his books again.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 08:20 pm
@mac11,
I liked Teacher Man best. I read it with my own internal brogue. Then I heard his own rendition on a Recorded Book and I was so far off. I then went and got Angelas Ashes as a book on tape and loved his voice and storytelling skills.

I especially loved how he dwelled on how he and his brother were always promising to "Die for Ireland ".
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 09:21 pm
A very moving writer. His books are crystal clear in my memory
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 09:23 pm
@panzade,
can you say that about James Joyce? except for spots of lucid description or Irish Life squeezed into tens of pages of addled gibberish
0 Replies
 
Region Philbis
 
  2  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 04:49 am

he taught at my high school, but unfortunately i never had him as a teacher...
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 05:10 am
@farmerman,
Those who knock Joyce are simply admitting a low level of literacy and blaming him for it.

I hardly think "embellish" is the word for your weak effort regarding the Hell homily in Portrait.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 05:45 am
@Region Philbis,
Apparently he kept in touch with his students. Several came to deliver eulegies at a news panel on his life.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 05:55 am
@farmerman,
Somewhere here there's an old audio tape of Frank talking about his early days in teaching, in the US. I must see if I can find it. Very entertaining - he always seemed to get the most difficult classes & would employ quite unorthodox methods in teaching them. Somehow he managed to be very funny in his descriptions of his experiences, yet quite serious & determined at the same time.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 12:45 am
@spendius,
Quote:
I hardly think "embellish" is the word for your weak effort regarding the Hell homily in Portrait.


Absolutely. That is one fantastic passage among a plethora of fantastic Joycean passages.

McCourt was too straight forward a man, though, to fool around with language the way Joyce did. A superlative story teller, however. There are passages in 'Tis (the forgotten middle book) that can make me literally roar with laughter.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 04:32 am
@Merry Andrew,
Never an admirer of one who eschewed the art of communication like Joyce did. When the entire reading experience is merely a testiment to ones own patience with little rewards, I dont consider Joyce as some gift to letters. (In fact there is a sizable school of readers who think as I, including several well known literary notables)
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 04:57 am
@farmerman,
Of course there are. In fact it is an exceedingly large school of readers of the type which, according to Veblen, there is one born every minute.

Which "well known literary notables" are you referring to and how many is "several".

You're up to your usual verbal tricks again effemm. Do they so pass without notice in your social circles that they have become an ineradicable habit?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 08:18 am
@spendius,
stick to your bar stool, thats what youre good at Butch.
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 09:07 am
@spendius,
Quote:
become an ineradicable habit?

What seems to me to have become an "ineradicable" habit is your shadowing FM all over this forum and commenting on the most minute details of his life.

Here's an idea. Take a jaunt to The Cotswolds, then come back and start a thread so we can share the experience.

This whole obsession with the Farmer is-for lack of a better word, rather "icky"
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 09:22 am
@panzade,
I seriously enjoyed every tourist moment I spent in the Cotswolds.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 12:58 pm
@farmerman,
Quote:
stick to your bar stool, thats what youre good at Butch.


Why don't you answer this question--

Quote:
Which "well known literary notables" are you referring to and how many is "several".


instead of engaging in bombast and bluster.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 01:05 pm
@panzade,
Quote:
This whole obsession with the Farmer is-for lack of a better word, rather "icky"


First off pz--how do you know if you're not tracking one or both of us?

And he's the leader of the pack which seeks to bring atheism into schools and discrediting him is one way of reducing his effectiveness. If he makes one assertion that he won't back up then one might assume it is his standard practice and I hope you are not in favour of assertions governing how schools are run.

Of course, argument is another, but it doesn't work with effemm due to his bigoted nature which results from the veneration of his own glopscuttle.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 01:20 pm
@panzade,
Quote:
and commenting on the most minute details of his life.


Well- it is effemm who has provided the "minute details of his life" for our edification and not to comment on them when they appear, as they often do, seems churlish and might be construed as me ignoring him.

And it would defeat the objective of A2K if I were to do that. The objective of A2K is to provide interest and excitement so that more people will read the threads and thus possibly be directed to the ads which I presume contribute to the upkeep of our site.

Not that I am claiming to provide interest and excitement. I only claim to be trying to. Some people might be interested in how I respond to your post in order that they might learn how to do it themselves when faced with similar stupidities equally pompously declaimed.

I bring colour to his dreary life. It must be pretty dreary for him to have to go to all the trouble of buying and looking after a boat and sailing around the shorelines in order to find relief.
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 01:42 pm
@spendius,
well...
carry on then
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Aug, 2009 02:00 pm
@dyslexia,
Quote:
I seriously enjoyed every tourist moment I spent in the Cotswolds.


I didn't. I once backed a 6-year old in the Cheltenham Gold cup at 33-1 a few weeks before the event. It jumped straight through the leaders at the last fence as if they were stopped and but for one of its front hooves, the fore one if I remember correctly, landing in a hole made on the first circuit it would have won 20 lengths pulling up. I didn't enjoy that one little bit. I was proud of having identified this rising star of steeplechasing and I was proved right and lost my cash multiplied by 34.

I once stayed at a pub in some dump down there and I was just about to get the leg over and a bloody clock clangourously chimed the quarter hour right across the street and I had the choice of a quickie or having a fit of the giggles at half-past which my biology would not have survived. And it went on all night.

Another pub I stayed in had creaky floorboards on account of how traditional it was and all the guests were of the type who had downed a few pints before retiring. And it wasn't en suite.

As for the rest it's just fields of crops with small islands of tourist shearing villages every few miles.

The saintly fathers who administered the school I was lucky enough to attend supervised about 100 of the senior boys to Evesham for six weeks every summer holidays for the purpose of picking plums. We were paid by the basket full an amount which I now know to be a fraction of what the school was paid. But that is how they found the money to employ two famous West Indian cricketers to come and coach us in the finer arts of that wonderful game. I was one of the headmaster's favourites and was invited, along with five other 3rd formers, to work in the kitchens. Have you every tried buttering 300 slices of bread? Or even worse--cracking a few hundred eggs into a bucket and putting the shells in another bucket. It's easy to lose concentration I can assure you all.

The next two years I was allowed to pick plums and the Geography master used to take me into Stratford-on-Avon every Sunday on the pillion of his Norton Dominator and buy me ice-creams.

I was a bit cherubic in those days.


 

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