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Not an easy read, but a worthwhile one.

  • Nov 10, 2003
If you can make it through the first 100 pages of "Angela's Ashes," then the rest is much easier. This isn't because it's poorly-written. Far from it; "Angela's Ashes" quickly captures the reader with a unique and compelling voice. The difficulty is that the first part of the book is tragic beyond words... and yet Frank McCourt has found words which capture the tragedy of his early years with ruthless honesty.

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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More Angela's Ashes: A Memoir reviews
review by . July 03, 2010
This memoir truly stuck with my after I read it. Mccourt is such an honest storyteller, and did not try to paint it any other way than exactly how it happened. Reading through his childhood experience and knowing that from those beginnings he was able to write that memoir and publish it for others to read showed me the strength of the human spirit and how no matter the circumstances, every person has the potential to make something positive out of a difficult experience.      …
review by . June 22, 2010
  Wow. What else can be said? This is a must read for everyone, especially those who are interested in reading/writing memoir. McCourt fills the page with vivid descriptions and interesting, sympathetic characters who remain in our hearts well after the last page is turned. We had talked about this all throughout my high school career, but I never thought to pick it up until this year, after graduating college. McCourt has seething, beautiful insights and a knack for creating scene and environment. …
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Could not really get into this one
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
Excellent book. That anyone can go through such harsh experiences and retell them with humor is a tribute to man's ability to adapt.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Reading McCourt's "Angela's Ashes not on gave an heart wrenching view into his particular childhood, but also an intimate look into Limerick City's poverty in the '30s and '40s. Wonderful book and a haunting read.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
A great memoir of growing up in Ireland; the sequels are also good
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Gritty and realistic tale about life in poverty.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Another good read about our history and ancestors.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Could read this over and over again.
About the reviewer
Rich Stoehr ()
Ranked #80
I often hide behind a pithy Douglas Adams quote or maybe some song lyrics. I guess it makes sense that much of what I share is reviews of things I like (or don't).      People … more
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About this book


Frank McCourt's haunting memoir takes on new life when the author reads from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Recounting scenes from his childhood in New York City and Limerick, Ireland, McCourt paints a brutal yet poignant picture of his early days when there was rarely enough food on the table, and boots and coats were a luxury. In a melodic Irish voice that often lends a gentle humor to the unimaginable, the author remembers his wayward yet adoring father who was forever drinking what little money the family had. He recounts the painful loss of his siblings to avoidable sickness and hunger, a proud mother reduced to begging for charity, and the stench of the sewage-strewn streets that ran outside the front door. As McCourt approaches adolescence, he discovers the shame of poverty and the beauty of Shakespeare, the mystery of sex and the unforgiving power of the Irish Catholic Church. This powerful and heart-rending testament to the resiliency and determination of youth is populated with memorable characters and moments, and McCourt's interpretation of the narrative and the voices it contains will leave listeners laughing through their tears.--This text refers to theAudio Cassetteedition.
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ISBN-13: 978-1568959634
Author: Frank McCourt
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Publisher: Wheeler Pub Inc
Date Published: November 01, 1999
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