The sequel to Frank McCourt's memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela's Ashes
, picks up the story in October 1949, upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his "pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth," has little in common with the healthy, self-assured college students he sees on the subway and dreams of joining in the classroom. Initially, his American experience is as harrowing as his impoverished youth in Ireland, including two of the grimmest Christmases ever described in literature. McCourt views the U.S. through the same sharp eye and with the same dark humor that distinguished his first memoir: race prejudice, casual cruelty, and dead-end jobs weigh on his spirits as he searches for a way out. A glimpse of hope comes from the army, where he acquires some white-collar skills, and from New York University, which admits him without a high school diploma. But the journey toward his position teaching creative writing at Stuyvesant High School is neither quick nor easy. Fortunately, McCourt's openness to every variety of human emotion and longing remains exceptional; even the most damaged, difficult people he encounters are richly rendered individuals with whom the reader can't help but feel uncomfortable kinship. The magical prose, with its singing Irish cadences, brings grandeur and beauty to the most sorrowful events, including the final scene, set in a Limerick graveyard. --Wendy Smith
From Publishers Weekly
The appeal of McCourt as a reader of his own memoirs (Angela's Ashes flourished commercially on audio, in both abridged and unabridged formats) lies in his ability to express a sustained sense of wonder at the world around him. Also, his brogue is classic, an Irish species unto itself. Here he takes up where he left off in his last book, arriving in America. He is first guided by an Irish bartender who tells him to go to the New York Public Library and read Samuel Johnson. Thus assimilated, he becomes a supply clerk for the army, stationed in postwar Germany, then a warehouse laborer living in a rooming house, before earning a college degree at NYU and settling down as a teacher at a rowdy vocational high school in Staten Island. Along the way come romance and immigrant's-eye life observations aplenty, and a growing sense of knowingness develops even as McCourt's hopes are dashed against disillusions. Simultaneous release with the Scribner hardcover. Also available unabridged and on CD. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.