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 quite catch reading it.
Up front, many are uncomfortable with this work and Angela's Ashes because of the language, which is quite blue in places. I don't find it the most endearing quality 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 you.
That 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 quality that is rarely achieved in most modern literature.
McCourt 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 general.
My 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 book.
A 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 more of the same type of reading and entertainment.
I look forward to reading, and hopefully hearing the next installment.
on May 13, 2004
This book continues the story of Frank McCourt's life, from his return to American shores at the age of 19 through his middle age, as he finally makes peace with his parents. McCourt tells us about his work history and his romantic involvements, and how he became a writer (or at least a writing instructor).
I didn't find this book as engaging as Angela's Ashes. Perhaps the struggles of adult life, deciding whether to stay at a lousy job or quit, or how to keep a relationship alive, just aren't as immediate as those of childhood- -where will your next meal come from? Will your father get up you up in the middle of the night again to make you swear you will die for Ireland? Or maybe the American characters in this tale lack the spirit of the Irish ones in Angela's Ashes. This book seemed to drag a bit, as McCourt details the slow meandering path that he took while pulling himself up from work cleaning ashtrays in a hotel lobby to becoming a teacher and a father. One trait that McCourt seemed to inherit from his father was the propensity to let drink get in the way of his family life. In this sense, it seems that McCourt didn't take all the lessons of his childhood to heart. As a result, his upward progress is perhaps a bit more bumpy than it needed to be.
Nevertheless, McCourt can still tell stories, and as he relates the events of his wedding or first day in school, the reader is there with him in the scene as it unfolds. I also enjoyed his description of how he found and developed the particular teaching style that suited him. No, it's not easy to walk into a classroom as a new teacher in a tough school and establish a sense of order, let alone motivate students to learn. But when you're trying to get the students to read moldy old classics simply because they're part of the assigned high school curriculum, and the kids find out that you never had to read these books in school yourself because you didn't even attend high school, you're in thick soup. It's in such circumstances that McCourt truly comes into his own.
on April 4, 2004
Frank Mccourt is born in Irish, he had won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize, and other important awards and his book "The Angela's Ashes" became a bestseller over three years. He has destroyed teeth, pimply face and sore eyes.
'Tis is a book that continued from a book call "The Angela's Ashes." Both books are a biography that written by Frank Mccourt. The Angela's Ashes is about Frank Mccourt's young age in Irish, how he experience conflict from his parent, which affects him made a decision coming to America. And the book 'Tis is about Frank's America journey from a poor immigrant to an intelligent teacher. Frank Mccourt is a very strong and has gentle sense of humor. Frank Mccourt lands in New York at age nineteen in the October of 1949. When he first steps in New York, he meets a priest from a company and he introduces Frank a job at the Biltmore Hotel. And then Frank is drafted into the army and is sent to Germany to train dogs and type reports. When Frank returns to America in 1953, he works on the pier. By then, he always dreams of being a student. He is accepted at New York University without any required high school degree. At the University he meets Alberta Small, the lovely girl in NYU. In the summer of 1961 Frank marries her. In 1971 his daughter Maggie is born and they have their own house, but the marriage of Frank and Alberta fails. Five year later, Frank walks out and stays with a friend. Later on, Frank decided to study at Brooklyn College he sometimes sees his mother and his mother died from too much smoking. Frank visits his father twice-in Belfast, his father was drunk all the time and hasn't change anything good. In January 1985 Frank's father dies at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Frank flies to the funeral in Belfast. After he finish Brooklyn College. He went back to New York and decided to start his teaching career.
The book writes about Frank's ability to succeed in America, Although Frank finds himself trapped in difficult relationships with his parent, and making several problems in America, Frank's sees clearly about education with his Irish eyes. The theme of this book is mostly on family relationships.
The significant of this book will be related to the book "Angela's Ashes." Frank Mccourt talks about his childhood with his Catholic mother, his 3 brothers, and his alcoholic father left the family in poverty. Frank felt regretted bout leaving his mother in Ireland when the time he was in New York.
He wrote lot lyrics in the book. Ending with
A mother's love is a blessing
No matter where you roam,
Keep her while she's living,
You'll miss her when she's gone.
on September 5, 2003
The following is a review of the Unabridged CD recording of 'Tis as read by the author.
'Tis is subtitled "A Memoir." So I thought to myself when I began that it would be the author's memoir. It is a fair assumption after all especially after reading the book jacket and seeing Mr. McCourt's picture and reading that it chronicled his life.
I listened to the entire book, as read by Mr. McCourt and at times, I would scream at him (though he was not there) "Quit yer whining and complaining." It seemed like there was an incessant amount of whining and complaining as well as moments that revealed that the sole motivations for most of McCourt's actions lie in his own self-aggrandizement. Many who have reviewed this book would take the position that Frank McCourt comes off in the book as a boarish ogre and I would have to agree.
However, this conclusion did not sit well with me and towards the very end of the book, it hit me. The book was subtitled "A Memoir" and not "My Memoir." If one were to write his own memoirs, one has full editorial license to only report the good, or to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, "to prepare a face for the readers that you would meet." McCourt does not do so.
Instead, 'Tis is not a true "memoir" in that it is not truly his own "memoir." Rather, 'Tis is a memoir of all the other people (both good and bad) in his life and in his "memoir" Frank McCourt plays either a foil character or a "Nick Carraway" character for the other people who had come through his life. If McCourt is especially boarish - especially in his descriptions of the people whom he loved and cherished the most, his descriptions are not to be believed nor an indictmernt, but rather are instead, meant to accentuate his own inadequacies.
The CD edition of the text illuminates the topic of McCourt's brogue by producing the brogue for inspection by the reader/listener. Each disc ends with an snipet of Irish folk song and McCourt reads with flare and gusto. He also provides voice characterizations for different speakers. All in all, a quite worthy product.
on June 28, 2003
'TIS is a memoir that picks up where Frank McCourt leaves off in "Angela's Ashes." It continues his story as an adult.
At age 19, McCourt returns to New York City from Ireland. He describes his life in America and his relationship with the people that he meets. It starts with his first job, first place to stay and the people that he meets. Early on, everyone warns him to "stay with his own kind" (Irish people) only. McCourt ignores that advice and meets some very colorful people.
McCourt joins the army and serves abroad. He returns to Ireland for a visit. Later McCourt is able to attend New York University although he never graduated from high school. He starts a teaching career and gets his first job in a Staten Island high school. McCourt describes the challenges he encounters with his students - youngsters and grown-ups alike.
McCourt also describes his relationship with his parents as an adult. He cares for his mother, although she exasperates him sometimes. He is disappointed with his father's care of the family but still tries to reach out to his father on several occasions. He also mentions his brothers.
I enjoyed this memoir because after reading "Angela's Ashes," I wanted to know what happened to McCourt as an adult. 'TIS answered all the questions that I had - What happened when he left for America? Was he able to help his mother? Did he ever hear from his father who abandoned the family? Where did the title, "Angela's Ashes" come from? And more.
'TIS is another good memoir to read.
on April 22, 2003
After reading Angela's Ashses I was left with a feeling of sorrow and admaration for Frank Mc Court. The book ends with his arrival in America and it left me wondering how he would turn his life around.
"Tis" being the sequel, was a captivating story yet it resonated with whinyness. Tis does not create the same feelings of sympathy and admaration for the author that Angela's ashes did so well. The first few chapters deal with Franks settling in period in New York. As the story progresses Frank seems to still complain and feel sorry for himself even though he has come to a level in his life where he has a lot to be grateful for.
Its quite tragic and "off putting" for the reader to hear how Frank complains about his wife not going along with his late night boozing, lack of maturity and self pity. I mean the guy was dead drunk at his wedding. He divorses her after five years and then critisizes her for being a responsible parent.
As the story progresses the more you begin to dislike who Frank has become. But thats life I guess, and he tells it how it is. However the way in which Frank writes, it seems he expects evryone to understand why he is so self absorbed and condone his faults because he had the poor Irish catholic childhood.To me, I just didn't buy it.
on January 18, 2003
TIS is like discovering the work of an old master in your own basement... you continue to be startled. What courage it took this man to not just survive, but to become a beloved teacher, given the harsh circumstances of his birth. He is proof of the strength of the spirit, throughout his struggles he perseveres and keeps his exuberant sense of humor. While deeply moved, I laughed out loud repeatedly, and was impressed with his mastery of language and character. It's hard to believe he remembers word for word conversations from so long ago, especially after so many "pints."
This is not a memoir, it is communion. McCourt is a national treasure and his humility is rare and exquisite. I cannot imagine a better book about coming to America, within 'Tis he has given thousands a precious gift -- a kind of voice. Perhaps he has even returned the dignity of many forgotten individuals. Additionally, I am sure, placed before this great fame he so richly deserves. Thank you, Mr. McCourt, for sharing with such undeniable wisdom and wry wit your beautiful story.
on November 22, 2002
In the first book I felt he was apologizing to his mother for being such an a-hole but in this book well....it really is his memoirs. I don't think he ever will understand Americans. The joke is that he is an American himself now, so I guess he doesn't understand himself either.
One thing about this book that touched me was the way he feels displaced and yet he also knows there is no place where he would not feel that way. I as an American feel that way quite often myself and I didn't come here on any boat. I was born here.
I think this is a good book but don't read it for light reading, because it isn't. It has some great insights into death of a parent, being American, and seeing America through the eyes of someone who knows how rich we truly are.
My favorite part was when he first came to America.
The best thing about this book was that it was very truthful. He wrote what he saw -- even though, I as a reader could clearly see the authors blind spots. It was sad, but so are many people's lives in America. Especially families who are abandoned by a parent.
on September 10, 2002
Once again, Frank McCourt dazzles us with his dark humor and his unique view of the world. 'Tis picks up where Angela's Ashes leaves off, and we find the young McCourt (at 19 years of age) returning to his birthplace in America, desperately hoping to find his place in the world and searching for some sort of opportunity that will afford him a more meaningful life.
The narrative first follows Frank through a series of meaningless jobs and his stint in the Army, which provides him with some bookkeeping skills. We follow him as he fails at a relationship, and see him developing a dependency of alchohol that threatens to make him follow in the footsteps of his father. We listen to the heart-rendering accounts of his return visits to Ireland, and his efforts to bring his entire family to America.
With the help of the GI bill, Frank manages to go to college, though he never attended high school. He stumbles his way through that endeavor, learning as he goes. After college he pursues his lifelong goal of teaching, and we watch as his dreams finally begin to acheive fruition.
'Tis has somewhat of a lighter tone to it than it's prequel, Angela's Ashes, mainly because his life is a little better than it had been in Ireland. He seems less resigned to his living condition, however, and the resultant inner-conflict and sense of needing to find a place in the world are the underlying tones of this book.
Frank McCourt has an uncanny knack for making us laugh, making us cry. In 'Tis, he does both, and does it like no one else can.
on January 6, 2002
If this book had been fiction, I probably wouldn't get far before putting it down. But...I believe this is a very accurate depiction of the life of someone who is, well, depressed; the constant disappointment in yourself and the world around you and the struggle to fit the pieces of your past in some order that will make sense of the present. There is a pervading sense that failure begets failure and if you feel miserable when reading this book, then I think McCourt has done a fine job at putting his shoes on you. In 'Tis he searches for meaning in life, not with the diligence of a saint but with the constantly meandering thoughts of a regular guy. When he writes "The Bed", he communicates his shame in the telling of his story meant only for his teacher, who decided to share it with the class. His next story, he tells us "had to be written" even though his preference would have been to make something up. These two occasions from his first college semester sum up the reason for this book - it's a story he has to tell. When later his disinterested students discover the life stories of their fathers, aunts, etc untouched in the classroom closet for years and years, they shed tears, realizing why their dad didn't want to fight in the war. Or the words of the aunt who later died. Nothing earth shattering or story altering, just little insights from a life lived. Meaningful words.