In bone-clean prose, McCourt details the events of his early childhood, first in America and then in Ireland. His story is an interesting one, to be sure, but the most notable thing about it is the way he tells it. McCourt's straightforward style perfectly portrays how a child sees the world and his family. Especially early on, there is no moralizing or judgment; events simply happen, often for no discernible reason (although reasons are clear to the reader). As McCourt grows, so the prose becomes more complex, and his understanding of what is happening to his family crystallizes.
McCourt also does a great job capturing the rhythm and cadence of dialogue and regional accents, especially the Irish way of speaking English. While reading the book's dialogue sequences, a reader can hear the people speaking in their inner ear, can hear the thick Irish accents of some, the clear English of others. Simply put, Frank McCourt has one of the finest ears for dialogue of any writer I've ever read.
The imagery of "Angela's Ashes" is simple but vibrant, the story moving and very, very real. It is, in many ways, a difficult book to read, but that is simply because it is so well-written, and portrays a difficult subject with honesty and clarity. One finishes the book wishing that more writers could write this clearly, but even more important, the reader understands what Frank McCourt went through as he grew to a young man. If that reader is anything like me, it will make them very thankful for what they have.
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