Staten Island Web logo

I finally broke down and bought the book. I'd read the lengthy excerpt of Angela's Ashes in a magazine and thought it was a downer. I asked an Irish-American friend if he'd read the book. Said he couldn't bring himself to read it because it was so sad. So my sales resistance was high.

Over the past few years the McCourts have become a phenomenon. Best seller, talk shows, a movie, a sequel. Frank McCourt is giving a talk called "The Irish..and how they got that way." His brother Malachy operated a bar up near the old PanAm building in NYC called, naturally enough, "Malachy's, which I visited a couple of times around 1963. A decent place where the young people hung out to meet and greet. Malachy also wrote a recent book. Michael tends bar in SF. The father drank himself into oblivion along with the children who died of starvation when Da drank the food money. The ones who survived the starvation did so barely, no thanks to him.

I've gotta tell you, giving due respect for the careful and highly skilled manner of writing and presentation, the first 300 pages that I've read is an unmitigated account of starving children. You know that there is hope for some, but it seems a long time in coming.

I know, salvation from poverty and starvation was a long time in coming for these kids, but I was hoping to get to happier times before 300 pages.

Maybe the last 62 pages will allow these poor folks to get their heads above water. I sure hope so.

The good part is that Frank McCourt constantly shows that as a little kid he was able to see through the church-based cant that was constantly thrown at him, on the order of, if God was really as kind and good as everybody says he is, then why am I starving. So you know the kid is going to be all right if only he doesn't die of disease or starvation before he grows up and gets away. It's remarkable that McCourt can recall and piece the detail together. In an article he wrote on the writing of this autobiography, McCourt tells how he spent years recording his recollections and trying to tell the story, but was unable to until he hit on the manner in which he finally presented his life, after he retired from teaching at Stuyvesant (after McKee) at age 65 or so.

That's a long time before catching the brass ring on the merry-go-round, but speaking as someone who's still reaching, I say go for it, congratulations, and good luck.


Staten Island WebŪ Forums Index.