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'Tis A Memoir

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The sequel to Frank McCourt's memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela's Ashes, picks up the story in October 1949, upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his "pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth," has little i The sequel to Frank McCourt's memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela's Ashes, picks up the story in October 1949, upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his "pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth," has little in common with the healthy, self-assured college students he sees on the subway and dreams of joining in the classroom. Initially, his American experience is as harrowing as his impoverished youth in Ireland, including two of the grimmest Christmases ever described in literature. McCourt views the U.S. through the same sharp eye and with the same dark humor that distinguished his first memoir: race prejudice, casual cruelty, and dead-end jobs weigh on his spirits as he searches for a way out. A glimpse of hope comes from the army, where he acquires some white-collar skills, and from New York University, which admits him without a high school diploma. But the journey toward his position teaching creative writing at Stuyvesant High School is neither quick nor easy. Fortunately, McCourt's openness to every variety of human emotion and longing remains exceptional; even the most damaged, difficult people he encounters are richly rendered individuals with whom the reader can't help but feel uncomfortable kinship. The magical prose, with its singing Irish cadences, brings grandeur and beauty to the most sorrowful events, including the final scene, set in a Limerick graveyard. --Wendy Smith


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The sequel to Frank McCourt's memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela's Ashes, picks up the story in October 1949, upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his "pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth," has little i The sequel to Frank McCourt's memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela's Ashes, picks up the story in October 1949, upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his "pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth," has little in common with the healthy, self-assured college students he sees on the subway and dreams of joining in the classroom. Initially, his American experience is as harrowing as his impoverished youth in Ireland, including two of the grimmest Christmases ever described in literature. McCourt views the U.S. through the same sharp eye and with the same dark humor that distinguished his first memoir: race prejudice, casual cruelty, and dead-end jobs weigh on his spirits as he searches for a way out. A glimpse of hope comes from the army, where he acquires some white-collar skills, and from New York University, which admits him without a high school diploma. But the journey toward his position teaching creative writing at Stuyvesant High School is neither quick nor easy. Fortunately, McCourt's openness to every variety of human emotion and longing remains exceptional; even the most damaged, difficult people he encounters are richly rendered individuals with whom the reader can't help but feel uncomfortable kinship. The magical prose, with its singing Irish cadences, brings grandeur and beauty to the most sorrowful events, including the final scene, set in a Limerick graveyard. --Wendy Smith

30 review for 'Tis A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    My brother was the one who told me to read Frank McCourt’s 1996 Pulitzer-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes. It was one of the books that made me who am I today: a voracious reader. It took me 12 years before reading its 1999 sequel, ’Tis (short for “It is”). Reason: I wanted to let the cute and innocent boy Frank and his brothers Malachy, Michael and Alphie to stay as long as possible in my mind. I did not want them to grow up. I wanted to hold on to the image of those boys running and walking aroun My brother was the one who told me to read Frank McCourt’s 1996 Pulitzer-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes. It was one of the books that made me who am I today: a voracious reader. It took me 12 years before reading its 1999 sequel, ’Tis (short for “It is”). Reason: I wanted to let the cute and innocent boy Frank and his brothers Malachy, Michael and Alphie to stay as long as possible in my mind. I did not want them to grow up. I wanted to hold on to the image of those boys running and walking around the impoverished and dirty street of Limerick searching for coal and food. Angela’s Ashes struck me that much that I wanted the book’s memories to stay so I don’t want to imagine that those boys have grown up into men. In fact, when Frank McCourt (1930-2009) died two years ago (July 19, 2009), I did not want to hear about it. I neither read the article on the paper nor looked him up at the website. So both succeeding memoirs, ’Tis and Teacher Man (2005) had to wait. When I joined Goodreads in 2009, I added these books. One of my first friends Charles was reading these and he liked ’Tis so much that he also (same as his rating for Angela's)gave it a 5-star rating. I promised him that I would read this too but I still could not let go of Angela’s Ashes memories. My Peter Pan-like behavior still won over my promise. Then Charles had a hiatus in GR and I had another reason to bury these books at the bottom of my tbr heap of books. Last month, Charles suddenly popped up in GR after two years of absence. Worse, he also said that he would attend our group’s meet up so we will see each other face-to-face. How will I explain to him that I have not yet read ’Tis? So, I looked for this book. No need to romanticize the image of the McCourt boys. Wake up, K.D. and face the reality. People grow up, age and die. These are facts of life. Even if reading provides us the opportunity to create fictional worlds in our minds, facts are facts and Frank McCourt has long been dead. So, I picked up ’Tis and started reading. Oh I hated the first part. What? The boy Frank is now a young man at 19 years old and left Ireland on MS Irish Oak going to New York? I struggled accepting the truth and could not relate to his grown up experiences: almost becoming a sexual prey by a Catholic priest in a hotel, US Army in Europe as a Corporal, his visit back to Ireland, graduating from NYU despite not finishing high school and his first years as a teacher at McKee Vocational and Technical High School and the prestigious Stuyvesant High School where his secret came out: He is the teacher who never finished high school. The story still retains that old playful and childlike tone that I felt in love with in Angela’s Ashes. McCourt has this uncanny ability of making simple dialogues catchy and witty. His tongue-in-cheek comments about Catholic and sex are just outrageous and can put smile even during gloomy days at home. Gloomy because my daughter had an accident and she is now wearing a shoulder sling, my wife feeling so busy sending and fetching our injured daughter to and from her school, one of the maids is on vacation while the other one is 5-month pregnant with no husband. However, the second part of the book is awesome. Angela McCourt, the mother pays a visit to her sons in the US: Frank, now a high school teacher, Malachy, a bar owner, Michael, an American soldier and Alphie, living in Manhattan. Then when Angela dies in the US, she is cremated and her ashes are bought back to Ireland and was scattered in some tombs of famous people there. It explains the title of the first book as it reminds me that I had that question before in my mind. I am glad I finally read this book. Now, I can face Charles and say that I’ve read the book and we can talk about it. And during the discussion, I’ll bear in mind that all these things – the meet ups, the friends we make along the way, my daughter’s injury, my pregnant maid without a husband, etc – all these things will pass. What is important is how we live the present. And as they say, if you should do something, you might as well give it your best. 'Tis your best that you should give life. 'Tis.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Sadder in some ways than Angela's Ashes. Whereas Angela's Ashes was a story of Frank McCourt fighting the odds and dangers of growing up in a Limerick slum and trying to escape, this book is about Frank McCourt fighting with himself and occasionally American society. This book reveals his darker side, including his own battles with the drink (though these are never as bad as his father's alcohol problems), his insecurities and the chip on his shoulder about growing up in a slum. Frank had a toug Sadder in some ways than Angela's Ashes. Whereas Angela's Ashes was a story of Frank McCourt fighting the odds and dangers of growing up in a Limerick slum and trying to escape, this book is about Frank McCourt fighting with himself and occasionally American society. This book reveals his darker side, including his own battles with the drink (though these are never as bad as his father's alcohol problems), his insecurities and the chip on his shoulder about growing up in a slum. Frank had a tough life even in America, and while the book is occasionally humorous, it is sad to see the way drinking contributes to a lot of his problems and the growing gulf between him and his mother. McCourt's sparse writing style, while refreshing, only makes these problems seem worse. In Angela's Ashes, McCourt left Ireland in triumph, as a victim turned hero, while in 'Tis he is half victim, half villain.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    After reading Angela's Ashes I was glad to know author Frank McCourt had also written a sequel. I felt after reading Ashes, I needed closure. I wanted to know how Frank fared as a young adult when he arrived in New York as an Irish immigrant in 1949 and if the rest of the McCourt family followed in his footsteps. 'Tis had all the answers I was seeking with such an amazing writing style of "aching sadness and desperate humor." 5 Stars !

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katerina

    Довольно позорно порыдала в самолёте, испугав простодушных грузинских тётушек. Две великие книги про загадочную ирландскую душу. A must read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    FeReSHte

    بعید می دونم بشه کتاب اجاق سرد آنجلا رو خوند و فرانک بیچاره رو که بعد از تحمل اون همه فلاکت بالاخره به رویای دور و درازش - زندگی در امریکا - رسیده تو دهه ی دوم زندگیش رها کرد. اینجاست که با اشتیاق برای فرونشوندن حس کنجکاویتون دنبال جلد دوم می گردین به نظر من ادامه ی ماجرا تو جلد دوم نسبت به جلد اول ضعف های بیشتری داره . لحن ساده و یکنواخت نویسنده تو جلد اول به واسطه ی سن پایین راوی آزاردهنده نیست ولی با بزرگ شدن راوی تو جلد دوم ، لحن روایت نویسنده همون طور ساده باقی می مونه که باور بزرگ شدن فرانک بعید می دونم بشه کتاب اجاق سرد آنجلا رو خوند و فرانک بیچاره رو که بعد از تحمل اون همه فلاکت بالاخره به رویای دور و درازش - زندگی در امریکا - رسیده تو دهه ی دوم زندگیش رها کرد. اینجاست که با اشتیاق برای فرونشوندن حس کنجکاویتون دنبال جلد دوم می گردین به نظر من ادامه ی ماجرا تو جلد دوم نسبت به جلد اول ضعف های بیشتری داره . لحن ساده و یکنواخت نویسنده تو جلد اول به واسطه ی سن پایین راوی آزاردهنده نیست ولی با بزرگ شدن راوی تو جلد دوم ، لحن روایت نویسنده همون طور ساده باقی می مونه که باور بزرگ شدن فرانک ، ورود به دانشگاه ، معلم شدن ، ازدواج و بچه دار شدن و حتی پیر شدنش رو مشکل می کنه. علاوه بر این جاهایی هم به خاطر این نوشتار یکنواخت و ساده ، روند ماجرا خسته کننده میشه یکی دیگه از ضعف های کتاب به نظرم ناتوانی نویسنده در برجسته کردن اتفاقات مهم و جداکردن جزئیات از اونهاست. نویسنده با لحن یکنواختش با همون میزان توجهی که مثلا نسبت به ورود به دانشگاهش یا ازدواجش حرف می زنه از دوستی های گذرا یا یه گذران وقت ساده تو یه بار حرف می زنه . به نظرم بهتر بود خیلی از مکالمات و اتفاقات جزیی از روایت نویسنده حذف میشد تا هم توجه و تمرکز خواننده بیشتر جذب بشه و هم از خسته کنندگی بعضی قسمت ها کم بشه حجم بالایی از جلد دوم به ماجراهای نویسنده از زمان رسیدنش به امریکا تا معلم شدن و سپس ازدواجش اختصاص داره . بعد از اون نویسنده خیلی جزیی و پراکنده حوادثی رو ذکر می کنه که با مرگ مادر و بعد پدرش به پایان می رسه . به جرات می تونم بگم مک کورتی آدم خوشحال ( یا شاکری!) نبوده . تواناییش در ناله کردن برای بدبختی و فقر و فلاکت زندگی بسیار بالا ولی برای شکرگزاری تغییرات عظیم زندگیش بسیار پایینه . بدون مدرک دبیرستان وارد دانشگاه میشه ، با خوشگل ترین دختر دانشگاه دوست میشه ، از نظافت و باربری به معلمی می رسه ولی همچنان دست از ناله بر نمی داره ختم کلام این که هر چند دنبال کردن سرنوشت نویسنده تو سرزمین رویایی امریکا و دیدن رشد و پیشرفتش و رسیدن به جایگاه بالا از هیچ بسیار جالبه ، می تونه اثر گذار و امید بخش باشه و یه جورایی قدرت خواستن رو به اثبات برسونه ولی می تونست با قلمی متفاوت از این هم جذاب تر بشه .

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

    First, let me say that I absolutely adored this book. While not as dear to my heart as the first, I think this story is moving and the voice is, as always, unique. That said, this story is a much more familiar one than the last: Irish immigrant trying to make a life for himself in a new world, and a war-enraged America. This story, though, is much more tangible than "other" immigration stories and unique in that, throughout all the troubles, heartache, injustice, and anger, this is a story not b First, let me say that I absolutely adored this book. While not as dear to my heart as the first, I think this story is moving and the voice is, as always, unique. That said, this story is a much more familiar one than the last: Irish immigrant trying to make a life for himself in a new world, and a war-enraged America. This story, though, is much more tangible than "other" immigration stories and unique in that, throughout all the troubles, heartache, injustice, and anger, this is a story not burdened with self-pity. That's magic. This is the continued story of Frank McCourt (see Angela's Ashes) and we pick up upon his arrival in America. His eyes are still troublesome, a testament to the poverty that has followed him across the ocean. The cold-water flat he rents is both freezing and tiny, he finds. He must stick close to other Catholics (initially), and the land of opportunity, it seems, offers little opportunity to the likes of him. Where the first book seemed startling and heartbreaking in its sudden contrast to American life, this book invokes the same feelings but with an added twinge of guilt for the fact these were our ancestors mistreating and being mistreated. These lives were real--not a distant story, but a tangible one. McCourt's voice too is nothing short of poetry throughout: "We said a Hail Mary and it wasn't enough. We had drifted from the church but we knew that for her and for us in that ancient abbey there would have been comfort in dignity in the prayers of a priest, proper requiem for a mother of seven. 'We had lunch at a pub along the road to Ballinacura and you'd never know from the way we ate and drank and laughed that we'd scattered our mother who was once a grand dancer at the Wembley Hall and known to one and all for the way she sang a good song, oh, if she could only catch her breath."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Owens

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. All a bit sad. What happens when your dreams come true and you're still not happy? After the shocking story of "Angelas's Ashes", any sequel was likely to suffer and unfortunately this one does too. This is the often told tale of a young man arriving in the big city and the adventures that befall him. Frank McCourt arrives in New York aged 19, joins the US army and eventually becomes a teacher. It's everything he wanted or dreamed about as a child in Limerick. But he's still not happy. Like his fat All a bit sad. What happens when your dreams come true and you're still not happy? After the shocking story of "Angelas's Ashes", any sequel was likely to suffer and unfortunately this one does too. This is the often told tale of a young man arriving in the big city and the adventures that befall him. Frank McCourt arrives in New York aged 19, joins the US army and eventually becomes a teacher. It's everything he wanted or dreamed about as a child in Limerick. But he's still not happy. Like his father, he has problems with alcohol, and it causes him problems with jobs and relationships. There is a lot of grown up introspection from Frank, no longer the ignorant kid from the lanes. He sees a lot of racism in America, not just black and white, but anti-Irish, whites against Puerto Ricans, Italians looking down on everyone and so on. Of course there are still lots of very funny lines and sequences as you'd expect from McCourt. Everyone of Irish descent that he meets, tells him where their mother and father came from in Ireland. Frank tells stories about lots of amazing characters, and these are so many that he must have amalgamated his own and other stories. Frank is a master storyteller and I suspect teller of tall tales, but that doesn't make them any the less entertaining. The sadness continues when his father who swears he has given up the drink arrives from Ireland, he is taken off the boat in restraints, blind drunk. His mother, Angela, is lonely in America, and she irritates Frank, even though he knows how much he owes her. His brothers are falling prey to drink, and the cycle of alcoholism continues. I suppose it's the story all families go through: kids grow up, parents become a burden: kids have kids and it begins again. At the end of Bob Geldof's autobiography, he is standing outside Wembley late at night after the Live Aid concert, when a man says to him "Is that it?" And as Frank McCourt would say "'Tis." I will read the final volume of memoirs "Teaching Man" but I expect it to be more of the same. Entertaining but nothing more than that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    Ci sono giornate eccezionali in cui la discussione di una poesia apre la porta a una luce bianca abbagliante e tutti capiscono i versi e capiscono di aver capito e quando la luce si smorza ci sorridiamo come viaggiatori al ritorno da un'avventura. Con Frank McCourt accade esattamente lo stesso. Seguirlo per le strade di New York è come sbirciare in una stanza rimasta chiusa per decenni, lasciandovi entrare un fascio di luce. Il suo passo incerto e goffo si fa più solido con il rincorrersi dei de Ci sono giornate eccezionali in cui la discussione di una poesia apre la porta a una luce bianca abbagliante e tutti capiscono i versi e capiscono di aver capito e quando la luce si smorza ci sorridiamo come viaggiatori al ritorno da un'avventura. Con Frank McCourt accade esattamente lo stesso. Seguirlo per le strade di New York è come sbirciare in una stanza rimasta chiusa per decenni, lasciandovi entrare un fascio di luce. Il suo passo incerto e goffo si fa più solido con il rincorrersi dei decenni, così come la sua parlata. Eppure Frank è sempre Frankie. C'è sempre la sua arguzia: scorre come una linfa nascosta agli occhi dell'interlocutore ma sulla pagina sfocia in riflessioni esilaranti. C'è sempre il suo racconto continuo che grazie all'essenzialità della punteggiatura dà l'impressione di scorrere, amalgamarsi, vivere. Forse questa è una delle caratteristiche che più amo della sua prosa: il saper raccontare gli altri come se raccontasse se stesso. L'uso del discorso indiretto, la totale assenza di virgolette con cui imprigionare i personaggi nei loro dialoghi, il fraseggio libero ma conciso: tutto si traduce in un gomitolo di vite che confluiscono nella stessa materia, la memoria e il cuore di Frankie. Sebbene l'autore si sia cimentato nell'autobiografia, il risultato è un'opera corale di straordinaria vivacità. Sarebbe inutile ripercorrere la trama, non posso levarvi la delizia della lettura. Ciò che importa è sottolineare quanto questo libro possa essere fondamentale per un adolescente moderno. Io ho scoperto Frankie come si scopre un caro amico. Sarà perché aveva più o meno la mia età quando è arrivato a New York o che si è ritrovato a muovere i primi passi con la goffaggine che ritrovo in me nelle grandi occasioni della vita. Il momento in cui trovi il primo lavoro, la paura di fare una brutta impressione, l'ansia di non sentirti accettato per ciò che sei dalle persone delle quali desideri la stima. Anche il lettore grazie a Frank diventa un membro del coro. Ci sembra quasi di avvertire bruciore agli occhi e di sentire la morbidezza dei riccioli neri sulla testa. Le ricchezze che si possono ricavare dalla lettura sono davvero infinite: dalle riflessioni sull'insensatezza del razzismo e su quanto possa essere pesante un'identità che si indossa con scomodità; dalle perplessità sull'amore a quelle sul sesso; dalle stoccate inflitte agli scioperi degli anni '60 alle sfuriate contro i continui lamenti delle classi agiate, incapaci di apprezzare la propria fortuna. Neri, bianchi, portoricani, irlandesi, italiani, giovani, donne di mezza età, padri e madri allo sbando e giunti al termine del loro percorso, ragazze innamorate della schematicità di una vita monotona, classi medio-alte imprigionate nei rituali della buona società: questi i personaggi che vorticano attorno a Frankie, che lo erodono come un vento a volte gentile, altre tumultuoso. "Non avete voglia di scrivere della vostra vita per la generazione ventura?" Frankie, meno male che questa voglia ti è venuta. E quando la luce si smorza ci sorridiamo come viaggiatori al ritorno da un'avventura.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bart Breen

    Do I Detect an Irish Brogue? ;) I listened to this book as read by the Author. I recommend that, as I read Angela's Ashes and enjoyed it a lot as well, but there is something special about the reading by the author that adds a diminsion to the work that you can't quite catch reading it. Up front, many are uncomfortable with this work and Angela's Ashes because of the language, which is quite blue in places. I don't find it the most endearing quality myself, but as a memoir it captures the language Do I Detect an Irish Brogue? ;) I listened to this book as read by the Author. I recommend that, as I read Angela's Ashes and enjoyed it a lot as well, but there is something special about the reading by the author that adds a diminsion to the work that you can't quite catch reading it. Up front, many are uncomfortable with this work and Angela's Ashes because of the language, which is quite blue in places. I don't find it the most endearing quality myself, but as a memoir it captures the language of the army, the loading dock, the teachers lounge and the bar. Be warned up front, if you are not comfortable hearing swearing, then this is NOT the book for you. That having been said, listening to McCourt read, I caught the poetic, lyrical, stream of consciousness attributes that I knew were present in Angela's Ashes, but hearing the cadence, the lilting roll and flow of the language; there are parts of this book that come close to poetry. It is an amazing and endearing quality that is rarely achieved in most modern literature. McCourt has a rare transparency with his insecurity, his dysfunctional relationships, his family dynamics, his romance with his first wife and his transition to teaching and moving toward writing is very revealing and almost has a therapeutic value as you listen and can recognize the human condition in general. My one criticism, is that, perhaps, this book stretches a little long for the material he includes. The actual narrative events can be condensed to a very short story line. It is the embellishment, the thinking out loud and the dancing around in what becomes a farily discernible pattern by the end of the book to where, it "almost" becomes a little tedious, although this is faint criticism when weighed against the overall impact of the book. A very entertaining listen and read! It is hard to follow-up on a Pulitzer Prize. The goal is lofty and the expectations overwhelming. My opinion is this book does not surpass its progenitor, but it certainly comes close and provides more of the same type of reading and entertainment. I look forward to reading, and hopefully hearing the next installment.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Smith

    I enjoyed this sequel to "Angela's Ashes", because of Frank McCourt's ability to recollect dialogue, and his way of writing the words so well that you can just HEAR the Irish accent while you read. It is so amazing and inspiring to see where Frank comes from, the slums of Ireland, with his essentially single mother to college, eventually graduate school, & later a teacher in New York City. It's a long road out of the slums & out of his own head of fears, limitations, & low self estee I enjoyed this sequel to "Angela's Ashes", because of Frank McCourt's ability to recollect dialogue, and his way of writing the words so well that you can just HEAR the Irish accent while you read. It is so amazing and inspiring to see where Frank comes from, the slums of Ireland, with his essentially single mother to college, eventually graduate school, & later a teacher in New York City. It's a long road out of the slums & out of his own head of fears, limitations, & low self esteem to the place where he is able to make something of himself.. One thing about Frank as an author is that he tells the truth, even if it's ugly and shows his own flaws. I struggled with him drinking too much & repeatedly visiting the Irish pubs, especially after growing up WITHOUT his alcoholic father who couldn't prioritize his wife & children ahead of his addiction for drink & abandoned them all to poverty & a life of misery. It was hard to read about Frank stopping for a beer after school, & then one beer turns into a nine hour binge, and then oh well what's one more when the wife is already going to be pissed, so what's the use... I couldn't help but think Frank was possibly self sabotaging his life & relationships. While I appreciate honesty, I'll offer my own: I am disappointed with Frank for this drinking, & if it weren't for that, I would have easily given the book 4 stars. What I love about Mr McCourt is that he never fails to make me laugh out loud, even in the midst of the grimmest material. He is funny! I laughed a lot. I also have a great respect for the language, cultural, and financial struggles that immigrants have when they first come to this country.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an amazing and a motivational book that has inspired me these past few months being a junior. What makes this book inspirtational is how at every event in McCourt's life he finds the positive sides or tries to find something humorous within the event. This has taught me that no matter what life throws me at I can achieve, nothing is a major deal. I was really able to connect to McCourt in this book more than the first, Angela's Ashes because this story took place in New York, and in my n This is an amazing and a motivational book that has inspired me these past few months being a junior. What makes this book inspirtational is how at every event in McCourt's life he finds the positive sides or tries to find something humorous within the event. This has taught me that no matter what life throws me at I can achieve, nothing is a major deal. I was really able to connect to McCourt in this book more than the first, Angela's Ashes because this story took place in New York, and in my neighborhood. McCourt mentions the area I live in and the Church I go to, having these images in my head made the story seem closer to home. What really kept the story interesting for me is how descriptive McCourt is in his writing, mentioning specific neighborhoods, bars, schools which allowed me to really connect to this book especially since I live in New York. What also made the story fascinating is all the ordeals that McCourt has went through in his life, every chapter was a cliffhanger with me not being able to see what happened next. I didn't like how McCourt kept going from one story in his life to another because it made the book very suspensful. For example, I couldn't wait to see what happened to his relationship with Alberta and what would become of the relationship with his father. Overall, this is an amazing book that I believe every one can learn life lessons from and find some sort of connection with McCourt.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Couple of points here: McCourt's story is mesmerizing. From what he came from to what he become is beyond inspiring and thought provoking; however, I have some qualms with McCourt. Knowing what he knows about the dangers and pitfalls of alcohol, why the hell does he touch the stuff? It goes on to ruin several of his relationships and opportunities and yet he never comments on this. He never touches on the point of alcoholism in families and how his father's drinking did or did not directly affect Couple of points here: McCourt's story is mesmerizing. From what he came from to what he become is beyond inspiring and thought provoking; however, I have some qualms with McCourt. Knowing what he knows about the dangers and pitfalls of alcohol, why the hell does he touch the stuff? It goes on to ruin several of his relationships and opportunities and yet he never comments on this. He never touches on the point of alcoholism in families and how his father's drinking did or did not directly affect him. Furthermore, how the hell does his brothers open a bar once they both arrive in New York? What about the devastation of drinking did these guys not get? I regret that his order is off kilter and much of the time the reader has no idea McCourt's age or at least the year. At one point he was 29 and graduating from college. The next, he's having a kid at 38. McCourt constantly harps on random people in his life complaining about mundane things. Then, a girl breaks up with him and he's about to commit suicide. Or he complains about high school kids being obnoxious and unruly. And who the hell has sex with a prostitute after entering the incinerator rooms of Dachau? McCourt's pretty screwed up, or so it shows in his memoirs.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Victor Carson

    I did not like this book as well as McCourt's earlier memoir, Angela's Ashes, which related the family's struggles in Ireland in the 1940's and 1950's. 'Tis relates Frank McCourt's life in New York from the 1950's until his Mother's death in New York and his father's death and burial in Belfast in 1985. Frank McCourt himself read the audio-book edition of 'Tis. This book, however, needed editing to move the story along more smoothly. Certain parts are moving, thoughtful, or funny but some are re I did not like this book as well as McCourt's earlier memoir, Angela's Ashes, which related the family's struggles in Ireland in the 1940's and 1950's. 'Tis relates Frank McCourt's life in New York from the 1950's until his Mother's death in New York and his father's death and burial in Belfast in 1985. Frank McCourt himself read the audio-book edition of 'Tis. This book, however, needed editing to move the story along more smoothly. Certain parts are moving, thoughtful, or funny but some are repetitive, self-indulgent, or boring. I grew weary of reading all that Frank was thinking but never saying to people or reading again and again about his drinking - which he knows is destroying his marriage. I admire Frank's rise from abject poverty in Ireland to his college degree from NYU, his teaching career at Stuyvesant High School in Brooklyn, his home in Brooklyn, and his publishing of several well-regarded books, but this book could have been better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Frank McCourt could write about paint drying and I would 100% read it. He’s just brilliant.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book would get five stars, except that it isn't -quite- as great as Angela's Ashes, which makes it seem a bit disappointing. In comparison to that book, it is also somewhat less inspiring, in the sense that AA tells a story of perseverance over hardship as Frank survives all by carrying his dream of going to America through times of crushing poverty. In _'Tis_ he finally makes it to America, and things still are not perfect. In fact he still spends a lot of time feeling afraid and too insec This book would get five stars, except that it isn't -quite- as great as Angela's Ashes, which makes it seem a bit disappointing. In comparison to that book, it is also somewhat less inspiring, in the sense that AA tells a story of perseverance over hardship as Frank survives all by carrying his dream of going to America through times of crushing poverty. In _'Tis_ he finally makes it to America, and things still are not perfect. In fact he still spends a lot of time feeling afraid and too insecure to live the life he really desires. Although that makes this less of a feel-good experience, it also makes it a more subtle comment on Life, and required a degree of self-honesty from McCourt that most authors never attain. His prose remains liltingly poetic, and it is a joy to read, even when the subject matter is depressing or disappointing. Mccourt was my English teacher for the 1986-87 school year in High school, which is why I still think of him as "Mr. McCourt," rather than "Frank," in spite of his informal writing style. He did not include me as a character in this book (although he mentioned some of my classmates), which disappointed me at the time, but actually may be a good thing in retrospect. Having one's awkward adolescence immortalized in such incisive prose might be a bit overwhelming. I'm just glad that Mr. McCourt did it for the rest of us.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fede

    The narration of Frank McCourt's life continues in this volume, in which he faces the adversities of life in America. It is quite easy to understand till the beginning that this version of Frank McCourt is an older, more mature one, that, during the narration, becomes more and more aware of the hypocrisies and incoherences of the society, in a country where theoretically everyone should have the opportunity to make his own fortune but where practically it's harder than ever to make it happen. Fran The narration of Frank McCourt's life continues in this volume, in which he faces the adversities of life in America. It is quite easy to understand till the beginning that this version of Frank McCourt is an older, more mature one, that, during the narration, becomes more and more aware of the hypocrisies and incoherences of the society, in a country where theoretically everyone should have the opportunity to make his own fortune but where practically it's harder than ever to make it happen. Frank is fully conscious of his "inferiority" and often rant about it and about his jealousy towards the university students. I really liked this part of the book, because I could totally feel what F. McCourt was saying: it was a mighty, spontaneous desire to gain all the possible knowledge. And I appreciated the importance he gave to teaching, too, however, in particular in the last part of the book, I started to disagree more and more with his tendency passivity, his inability to impose his opinions and himself over others, a behavior that made me remember of his father. The last part of the book, then, was utterly sad. While in Angela's Ashes there was hope, in this one there was just sadness, that type that comes from disillusionment and old age, partially. Anyhow, his writing style is still the same, even more acute I may say in stressing the inconsistencies of life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Floripiquita

    Tras ese maravilloso libro que es Las cenizas de Angela, va el autor y perpetra este pestiño aburrido hasta decir basta. Lo antirecomiendo.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    This is the second of Frank McCourt’s trilogy of memoirs, but I read them out of order, so it’s the last for me. It has some of the childhood reminiscences of Angela's Ashes and even more of the teaching remembrances of Teacher Man, but mostly it’s about Frank’s journey from blue collar autodidact to college-educated professional. There’s also a bit about how he repeated his father’s mistakes and destroyed his marriage by drinking too much. For those parts, I was thinking, “No, Frank, no!” so This is the second of Frank McCourt’s trilogy of memoirs, but I read them out of order, so it’s the last for me. It has some of the childhood reminiscences of Angela's Ashes and even more of the teaching remembrances of Teacher Man, but mostly it’s about Frank’s journey from blue collar autodidact to college-educated professional. There’s also a bit about how he repeated his father’s mistakes and destroyed his marriage by drinking too much. For those parts, I was thinking, “No, Frank, no!” so I can only imagine how painful it must have been for him to write about. But because of those sections, I didn’t like this book as much as the other two. Even still, Frank McCourt’s voice is so poignant and funny, I can’t give him anything less than 5 stars. Above all, his message is that of an encouraging teacher. What a privilege it must have been to be in his class! Clearly, he lived and breathed literature, but he is saying more than that. Everyone has a story to tell. No matter who you are, no matter how humble your background, if go back to your personal roots, you’ll find something valuable to say and possibly give solace to someone else. If you loved Angela's Ashes, read the next two books. Frank McCourt is awesome no matter what he writes.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bookguide

    Frank McCourt's first book, Angela's Ashes, was incredible in its descriptions of an unbelievable poverty experienced within living memory in a Western European country. The impact of the continuation of McCourt's life story could hardly fail to pale in comparison. I felt that his descriptions of his miserable life at a succession of pitiful jobs and in the army dragged on too long. I was irritated by the continual harping on about how fortunate the Americans were, with their electricity, hot an Frank McCourt's first book, Angela's Ashes, was incredible in its descriptions of an unbelievable poverty experienced within living memory in a Western European country. The impact of the continuation of McCourt's life story could hardly fail to pale in comparison. I felt that his descriptions of his miserable life at a succession of pitiful jobs and in the army dragged on too long. I was irritated by the continual harping on about how fortunate the Americans were, with their electricity, hot and cold running water and cooked food, about how beautiful they all were. It didn't matter what happened to McCourt, good or bad, he was always moaning about how unlucky he was to be Irish, have bad eyes and teeth. None of these things seemed to hold back his brothers, it was just Frank and his dismal view on life and his inability to stay away from the drink. Even when the beautiful Mike / Alberta falls for him, he continues to jeapordise his happiness by his miserable attitude and apparent need to argue and his stubbornness. When his mother arrives on the scene, it is clear where he got his aptitude for seeing the darker side of life; they were a pair made in heaven, well-matched in their ability to be ungracious and ungrateful. Perhaps the reason this grated with me so much was because I have recently read The Adventures of Augie March describing life in a poor Jewish family in Chicago, with an overlapping timeframe, and they were living in similar poverty and squalor; this was by no means the exclusive fate of Irish immigrants and McCourt suggests is was. It wasn't until the second half of the book that it really came to life for me. McCourt's descriptions of his teaching at the vocational college on Staten Island and later at community college and an upper-class high school in Brooklyn were fascinating, sometimes hilarious and probably ring true for all teachers of teenagers. The way Frank won students over to his side, or at least got them discussing books, even if they weren't the books on the syllabus, was wonderful. His reverse psychology which resulted in an entire class enthusiastically acting out five of Shakespeare's plays was amusing and inspiring. The fact that he could become a teacher at all, having never gone to high school in Ireland himself, is both proof of 'the American dream' and a sad indictment on the American education system of the time, especially considering McCourt's extreme poverty when starting out as a teacher, unable to pay his way in life and certainly unable to save. On the whole, I enjoyed this book, although I never warmed to the author himself. Perhaps if I heard these stories told by the man himself as a self-deprecating comic over a pint of beer, I would appreciate it more. It was also a shame that he didn't paint longer portraits of some of his friends, many of whom seem to have been real characters, such as Horace at the docks and his neighbour Virgil Frank. In fact, the whole book seems to be rather self-centred, and this is what lowers my rating. Entertaining, but not memorable enough.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I must admit that my first reaction to this book was to be offended...here was this American-born Irishman returned to America to fulfill his dreams and all he could do was complain. I kept reminding myself how hard it would be at 19 yrs to ride the "learning curve" of customs, language, job & adult responsibilities while being mixed into the melting pot of NYC in the 1940's. He was frustrated, disenchanted, tired, confused. I continued reading - I wanted to see how this guy redeemed himself I must admit that my first reaction to this book was to be offended...here was this American-born Irishman returned to America to fulfill his dreams and all he could do was complain. I kept reminding myself how hard it would be at 19 yrs to ride the "learning curve" of customs, language, job & adult responsibilities while being mixed into the melting pot of NYC in the 1940's. He was frustrated, disenchanted, tired, confused. I continued reading - I wanted to see how this guy redeemed himself. Frank, like so many of us, tries on many different "suits" until he finds the one that fits - education. He steadily works his way through college and aspires to teach literature to high schoolers. Once this becomes reality for him, he's still at unrest (mainly b/c the students don't have interest in what he wishes to teach). I was hoping to read accounts of students who came back professing what a difference he had made in their lives. Maybe he was too humble to include this in the book, or maybe he was too overwhelmed and disappointed being a teacher to have made a difference at all? In my opinion... The constant theme: Individuals are always fluctuating between feeling "better than" and "not good enough". And, sometimes life is nothing but hard work. The most endearing part of the book: Frank's vantage point of his adult students when he teaches community college, and those same students gratitude towards him Would have gladly read more about: all the crazy "characters" he comes into contact with (i.e.-the elderly Italian with the loud tie collection and rare book who wills money to Frank & with which Frank buys his first house) Overall: This book is more disjointed than Angela's Ashes & I was expecting to see Frank GROW, yet sadly did not...in some ways, he's repeating the life of his alcoholic, dead-beat dad in this sequel. Mistakes are a foundation for learning - Frank does plenty of "book learning" but little "real learning"...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Frank McCourt burst on the literary scene with his memoir Angela’s Ashes , which outlined his childhood lived in abject poverty in Limerick Ireland. This book picks up where that one left off. He begins by recounting some of the overseas voyage, befriended by a priest who encourages him to talk to the “wealthy Protestants from Kentucky,” and who is dismayed when McCourt’s embarrassment over his teeth, his eyes, his clothing, keeps him from asserting himself. But although nothing is as he expect Frank McCourt burst on the literary scene with his memoir Angela’s Ashes , which outlined his childhood lived in abject poverty in Limerick Ireland. This book picks up where that one left off. He begins by recounting some of the overseas voyage, befriended by a priest who encourages him to talk to the “wealthy Protestants from Kentucky,” and who is dismayed when McCourt’s embarrassment over his teeth, his eyes, his clothing, keeps him from asserting himself. But although nothing is as he expected and he feels more ignorant each day, the 19-year-old Frank pursues his dreams of the American life. It’s slow going and the reader begins to wonder if he’ll ever get out of the slums and get his eyes and teeth fixed (though we obviously know he will, because he wrote these books, after all). Despite the obvious roadblocks in his path, Frank’s ingrained desire to better himself is further inspired by watching the office workers on the bus, overhearing them talk about their children or grandchildren going to college. A stint in the Army makes him eligible for the GI bill, and he begins to take courses at NYU. And the love of a classic American blonde beauty makes his dream of a clean job, a clean wife, a clean house and clean children seem finally within his grasp. McCourt has a way with language. His direct, present-tense style has immediacy to it that just keeps me reading. He doesn’t shy away from that which is painful, embarrassing, or downright depressing. I was anxious to see him succeed, but I was frustrated with his apparent inability to get on with it. In relating the story of the young Frank McCourt he comes across as painfully lacking in self-esteem – a born “loser.” His first book ended on such a high note of hope and opportunity; I was expecting more of the same, and this one didn’t quite deliver.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Mitchell

    Quite some time ago I reviewed McCourt's first autobiography, Angela's Ashes. 'Tis is the second book which picks up as Frank is sailing from Ireland to America, where he expects to see everyone has a tan and beautiful white teeth, i.e. the Hollywood version. First lesson, New York City and its people don't much resemble his expectations. He's still poor as a churchmouse of course but he finds a job sweeping the floor and emptying ashtrays in the lobby of the Biltmore, then moves on to a warehous Quite some time ago I reviewed McCourt's first autobiography, Angela's Ashes. 'Tis is the second book which picks up as Frank is sailing from Ireland to America, where he expects to see everyone has a tan and beautiful white teeth, i.e. the Hollywood version. First lesson, New York City and its people don't much resemble his expectations. He's still poor as a churchmouse of course but he finds a job sweeping the floor and emptying ashtrays in the lobby of the Biltmore, then moves on to a warehouse job on the docks. He rents a place at a rooming house with a strange landlady and her handicapped son. Eventually he talks his way into NYU despite his lack of a high school diploma. Many of my friends will be happy to learn he got in because of his reading habit. He had read classic literature that most American youth would disdain. At length he becomes a teacher, a teacher with a girlfriend no less. You may remember he had three surviving younger brothers; they all came to this country. His mother finally came here as well and made a career of carping about everything American. The book ends as the McCourt sons and their children take Angela's ashes back to Limerick. I raved about the first book. I laughed my head off reading parts of it and other parts tore my heart out. Young Frankie's poverty-stricken childhood was terrible. However, I was disappointed in this book. It's written in the same stream-of-consciousness style and he has the same sense of humor, and parts of it made me laugh out loud. The adult Frank McCourt, though, isn't such a sympathetic character. There were times when I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. I wanted to say, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself and for heaven's sake stay out of Irish bars!" But I must admit McCourt is a good man at heart and he's certainly a better writer than I'll ever be.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I guess we all know that Frank McCourt's life turned out pretty well, being a published prizewinning author and all that. But if we didn't know how his story ends, we would be left with the fact that he was a pretty sorry soul who was forever not saying what he wanted to say and forever following in his father's drunken footsteps. He haplessly falls into situation after situation that are entirely joyless, and looses women and opportunities to the bottle. Angela's Ashes was lovely storytelling a I guess we all know that Frank McCourt's life turned out pretty well, being a published prizewinning author and all that. But if we didn't know how his story ends, we would be left with the fact that he was a pretty sorry soul who was forever not saying what he wanted to say and forever following in his father's drunken footsteps. He haplessly falls into situation after situation that are entirely joyless, and looses women and opportunities to the bottle. Angela's Ashes was lovely storytelling artfully accomplished through the eyes of a boy. But 'Tis had nothing that special going for it. 'Tis was made blurry though the "bad eyes" of an alcoholic. 'Twas a disappointment for this McCourt fan.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marwan Asmar

    A memorable read, an Irishman in New York. This is a sequel to Angela's Ashes. The start is one of the McCourt's eldest brother, coming into New York across the Atlantic to start a new life at the Big Apple. We are introduced to Irish culture in another land, the heartaches of work, the odd jobs to make ends meets, the bedsits, the education, marriage, and finally death. At times it is hilariously funny, at times poignant. We are introduced to books, authors, to the teaching profession and the p A memorable read, an Irishman in New York. This is a sequel to Angela's Ashes. The start is one of the McCourt's eldest brother, coming into New York across the Atlantic to start a new life at the Big Apple. We are introduced to Irish culture in another land, the heartaches of work, the odd jobs to make ends meets, the bedsits, the education, marriage, and finally death. At times it is hilariously funny, at times poignant. We are introduced to books, authors, to the teaching profession and the pupils who are fed up with studying stuff they don't understand. You have to read to appreciate the sense of humour and life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trudi

    Pales in comparison to its prequel Angela's Ashes, which is heart-wrenching and brilliant.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luana

    Ciao Frank! Non sono una recensitrice, non ho idea di cosa si scrive dietro una quarta di copertina per far sì che un libro - quantunque penoso - venga venduto a orde di lettori entusiasti, e il commento che seguito a scrivere è animato solo dal fatto che io non solo ho letto le tue parole, ma le ho fatte mie e le ho rese il mio insegnamento principale di vita. Ho letto 'Le ceneri di Angela' nel 2010, durante il mio secondo viaggio a Francoforte, una delle città che amo più al mondo, e all'inizio Ciao Frank! Non sono una recensitrice, non ho idea di cosa si scrive dietro una quarta di copertina per far sì che un libro - quantunque penoso - venga venduto a orde di lettori entusiasti, e il commento che seguito a scrivere è animato solo dal fatto che io non solo ho letto le tue parole, ma le ho fatte mie e le ho rese il mio insegnamento principale di vita. Ho letto 'Le ceneri di Angela' nel 2010, durante il mio secondo viaggio a Francoforte, una delle città che amo più al mondo, e all'inizio ti detestavo per quel modo così volgare e popolano che avevi di scrivere, poi ho capito, e non solo ho capito, ma ho anche divorato. Così, il 15 di Aprile, emozionatissima, ho acquistato 'Che paese, l'America' e 'Ehi, prof!', sperando di ritrovarti sincero, timido e maldestro come ti avevo lasciato quando ti sei imbarcato su la Quercia d'Irlanda che ti avrebbe portato a New York, la città dei tuoi sogni; ti ho lasciato che speravi di arrivare in America ed iniziare una nuova vita per dimenticare la merda dei bassifondi di Limerick, per dimenticare la tua infelice infanzia cattolica e irlandese con un padre che spendeva la paga in bevute, e una madre disperata che doveva far l'elemosina per crescere te e i tuoi tre fratelli. L'America, il paese della possibilità, dove chiunque può inventarsi un lavoro e reinventarsi, il paese che ti guardava male perché eri un americano, certo, fornito di visto e tutto il resto che la burocrazia ti imponeva, ma eri un irlandese trattino americano. L'Irlanda non la volevi più, l'America sembrava non volerti e così t'ha messo a fare i lavori più bassi, quelli riservati a chi ha smesso di sperare, che è venuto al mondo con due soldi e muore senza nemmeno uno, insomma quelli come te. Ma tu eri diverso, tu ti eri emozionato a leggere Shakespeare quando avevi il tifo, anche se non capivi quello che ti voleva dire, tu andavi a lavorare per riscattare una madre straziata da un marito, tuo padre, che pure non riuscivi a rifiutare, che lasciava i figli senza una briciola di pane pur di bere. Tu volevi studiare, volevi l'istruzione. E invece sei finito nell'esercito, perché dovevi combattere i 'musi gialli', dovevi combattere il comunismo di un paese capitalista, capitalismo di cui ti raccoglievi la cenere negli alberghi di lusso per avvocati, imprenditori, figli d'avvocati e imprenditori che potevano andare all'Università, magari un ateneo dell'Ivy League; ma anche in guerra non ti arrendevi, e non contro il nemico, ma contro il futuro, leggevi e sognavi di tornare a New York con i libri dell'università. E all'Università, ci sei entrato, anche senza il diploma, perché la tua forza di volontà era più forte della forza di un destino che sembrava volerti stroncare le gambe ad ogni passo in più che facevi. Subivi il razzismo, lo vedevi mentre veniva indirizzato agli altri, ti indignavi, ma rimanevi fermo sul tuo posto, ti sentivi tagliato fuori da un mondo in cui parlavano di esistenzialismo mentre tu per pagarti la retta e mantenere madri e fratelli rimasti a Limerick lavoravi ai magazzini, e ti spezzavi la schiena pur di ottenere quello che per te è il tesoro più grande, l'istruzione. L'istruzione, quella stessa istruzione che oggi i ragazzini si scocciano di raggiungere, ragazzini che a casa hanno tutto, e che pure non hanno voglia di istruirsi, di studiare, di spaccarsi il culo come hai fatto tu. Perché a loro l'istruzione la danno addirittura gratuita, e non se la prendono. Tu la volevi, anche a costo di pagarla cara. E sei arrivato ad insegnare, partendo dall'istituto tecnico per arrivare al liceo. Tu non facevi differenza, per te i tuoi alunni erano tutti importanti, che fossero ricchi o poveri, perché come ti diceva sempre il tuo maestro 'potrete anche essere poveri e avere le scarpe, ma la vostra mente sarà sempre un palazzo'. Così hai sopportato di tutto. A scuola, fuori dalla scuola. Ma non ti sei mai fermato. Sei partito dai bassifondi di Limerick con il sogno di fare l'insegnante e, anziché rinunciare, la moglie che voleva che tu facessi un altro lavoro per avere più soldi e comprare mobili Queen Ann l'hai mollata, hai continuato ad insegnare. Ed io, quando non ho più voglia, quando mi adagio, quando mi sento sfiduciata e mi dico che sto facendo tanto per niente, penso a te; che da piccolo dormivi in un letto pieno di pulci, hai visto tua madre scopare con suo cugino pur di farvi avere un tetto sopra la testa, hai rinunciato a tutto, leggevi in biblioteca, di nascosto, leggevi Dostoevskij e portavi le lettere, raccoglievi frutti di nascosto per mangiare, facevi lo scaricatore, il lavapiatti, qualsiasi cosa, pur di arrivare. Pur di insegnare, che era il tuo obiettivo. E quando penso che non ho voglia di studiare, penso che, così come tu ti sentivi in colpa nei confronti di Horace, il negro che sfidava il razzismo e lavorava in mezzo alle offese dei bianchi pur di mandare il figlio dell'università, io mi sentirei in colpa nei tuoi confronti. Che quelli come me, con i denti bianchi, il pasto pronto e le copertine belle dei libri, li invidiavi. Io ti ringrazio per aver messo nero su bianco le tue memorie, perché solo così ho aperto gli occhi; perché con te ho capito che se hai un obbiettivo, ci arrivi, anche se vivi in un appartamento di New York senza l'acqua e senza la corrente. Grazie, Frank.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melissa McShane

    Meh. Angela's Ashes was wonderful, lots of history mixed in with the memoir, and so emotionally engaging. This one was a lot more memoir and not so much history, and far too much detail about his sex life and frequent masturbation (though he does, amusingly, refer to the latter as "interfering with himself"). The beautiful Irish voice still comes through, so it's pleasant to read even when the subject matter becomes pedestrian, and there are a few brilliant moments: my favorite is when, as a fir Meh. Angela's Ashes was wonderful, lots of history mixed in with the memoir, and so emotionally engaging. This one was a lot more memoir and not so much history, and far too much detail about his sex life and frequent masturbation (though he does, amusingly, refer to the latter as "interfering with himself"). The beautiful Irish voice still comes through, so it's pleasant to read even when the subject matter becomes pedestrian, and there are a few brilliant moments: my favorite is when, as a first-time teacher struggling to teach English to a class of uninterested teens, he finds an old stash of essays the previous teacher had left in a closet. When these essays turn out to have been written by the kids' parents, uncles, cousins, etc., McCourt sets them to copying the decaying pages so they won't be lost--and connects the project to them by pointing out that their children might someday want to read about their lives. Based on this, I think McCourt's other book Teacher Man might be more my thing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    This is the follow up to his book Angela's Ashes. I think the previous book leaves the reader with him getting on a boat to America. And he's still on that boat when the second book starts. It is more about how he made his way in America. What are some of the things that turned him around - like a bartender telling him he ought to find his way to the library instead of spending so much time in his bar. And he took him up on it. I think he worked on the docks. Went into the Army (not by choice). This is the follow up to his book Angela's Ashes. I think the previous book leaves the reader with him getting on a boat to America. And he's still on that boat when the second book starts. It is more about how he made his way in America. What are some of the things that turned him around - like a bartender telling him he ought to find his way to the library instead of spending so much time in his bar. And he took him up on it. I think he worked on the docks. Went into the Army (not by choice). And he went to school. And he got married. And he helped at least one brother to come over, maybe more. and through it all he was drinking fairly heavily. But he got educated and became a teacher. The first book was about his boyhood and his mother doing whatever she had to do to get by. This one is about his real coming of age and learning that there are other things that can be done.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    Mr McCourt is an amazing writer. As was the case with Angela's Ashes, I constantly had to remind myself this was not fiction. Otherwise I would have laughed out loud at what was in fact misery. Actually, I would remind myself that this was not fiction, then ask myself,"but how the hell does a single person in a single lifetime collect so many lunatics?" Then I would laugh out loud. I love this book. In my mind, Tis and Angela's Ashes are one book so I will skip the comparisons. This book surpris Mr McCourt is an amazing writer. As was the case with Angela's Ashes, I constantly had to remind myself this was not fiction. Otherwise I would have laughed out loud at what was in fact misery. Actually, I would remind myself that this was not fiction, then ask myself,"but how the hell does a single person in a single lifetime collect so many lunatics?" Then I would laugh out loud. I love this book. In my mind, Tis and Angela's Ashes are one book so I will skip the comparisons. This book surprises. After the misery of Limerick, I had the romantic notion that Frank would roll his sleeves up, polish off his brains, work hard, walk the thin and narrow, and attain the American dream. Instead, he went and struggled with the drink, ghosts of a slum upbringing and all that. How un-romantically human! And isn't that why we fell for McCourt in the first place?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Velvetink

    I have several books currently reading and a ton in the "to be read" pile but couldn't wait. Started this last night. Enthralled. Really enjoyed this book. I felt the first half of the book better than the last. Although his teaching experiences were a delight to read. The differences he felt between growing up in Ireland and then the apparent wealth in America - I'm sure relates to a lot of immigrants. I found the book useful for tracking down inherited feelings of a particular kind, the inbred I have several books currently reading and a ton in the "to be read" pile but couldn't wait. Started this last night. Enthralled. Really enjoyed this book. I felt the first half of the book better than the last. Although his teaching experiences were a delight to read. The differences he felt between growing up in Ireland and then the apparent wealth in America - I'm sure relates to a lot of immigrants. I found the book useful for tracking down inherited feelings of a particular kind, the inbred Irish thoughts of not being good enough.

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