Frank McCourt wrote three novels before dying last year at the age of 78.
The first one, Angela’s Ashes, narrates his miserable Irish childhood in the slums of Limmerick, the opression of his Catholic upbringing and his fight to achieve the dream of sailing to America. It won the Pulitzer Prize and it makes a thoroughly enjoyable reading (not long ago I related how I got hold of my copy).
The second one, ‘Tis, picks up at his arrival upon the new continent and tells of his search for employment, for flats, for a place in the world, for love, for a respectable career. It tries to repeat the formula but it lacks the spark and falls in nowhere land.
The third one, Teacher Man, digs in his experiences as a secondary scholl teacher of English and, for the last few years, creative writing. Both the novel and the character lack a purpose, but both seem to find it towards the last third of the book, which contains the most intense passages of the last two books and is the reason we bring it here. Both McCourt’s work and his advice are perfect matches of Brenda Ueland’s philosophy in If You Want To Write, and perfect contrast with megalomaniac storylines as we discussed them only last week.
We’re going to devote the whole of next week, Monday to Friday, to comment upon several fragments of his work and discuss, through them, the use of real experience and autobiographical elements in fiction.