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The seuel 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 US 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 acuires 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 uick 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


10 thoughts on “'Tis A Memoir

  1. says:

    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 seuel ’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'sgave 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 KD 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 deadSo 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 husbandHowever 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 uestion before in my mindI 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. says:

    I seem to be somewhat in the minority here but I enjoyed 'Tis than Angela's Ashes Perhaps because I was already so invested in Frank's life so intrigued to see where he went next Or maybe because he had control over his life now he is an adult While he is still deeply affected by his circumstances he is now in a position to attempt to change them so it was a little less depressing to read I love his way with language how he can describe something that is both horrifying and humorous I don't want to spoil anything so I'll just say I loved finding out where he goes and how he got there Looking forward to reading the final volume soon📖


  3. says:

    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


  4. says:

    After reading Angela's Ashes I was glad to know author Frank McCourt had also written a seuel 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


  5. says:

    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 uniue That said this story is a much 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 tangible than other immigration stories and uniue in that throughout all the troubles heartache injustice and anger this is a story not burdened with self pity That's magicThis 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 throughoutWe 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 reuiem 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


  6. says:

    All a bit sadWhat happens when your dreams come true and you're still not happy?After the shocking story of Angelas's Ashes any seuel 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 himFrank 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 onOf course there are still lots of very funny lines and seuences 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 entertainingThe 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 drunkHis mother Angela is lonely in America and she irritates Frank even though he knows how much he owes herHis brothers are falling prey to drink and the cycle of alcoholism continuesI suppose it's the story all families go through kids grow up parents become a burden kids have kids and it begins againAt 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 'TisI will read the final volume of memoirs Teaching Man but I expect it to be of the same Entertaining but nothing than that


  7. says:

    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 uite catch reading itUp front many are uncomfortable with this work and Angela's Ashes because of the language which is uite blue in places I don't find it the most endearing uality 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 youThat 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 uality that is rarely achieved in most modern literatureMcCourt 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 generalMy 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 bookA 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 of the same type of reading and entertainmentI look forward to reading and hopefully hearing the next installment


  8. says:

    I enjoyed this seuel 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 himselfOne 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 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 lotI also have a great respect for the language cultural and financial struggles that immigrants have when they first come to this country


  9. says:

    Couple of points hereMcCourt's story is mesmerizing From what he came from to what he become is beyond inspiring and thought provoking; however I have some ualms 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 Further 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


  10. says:

    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 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