From the author of the million-selling Angela’s Ashes – the most keenly anticipated sequel of the decade
Angela’s Ashes was a publishing phenomenon. Frank McCourt’s critically acclaimed, lyrical memoir of his Limerick childhood won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Award amongst others, and rapidly became a word-of-mouth bestseller topping all charts worldwide for over two years. It left readers and critics alike eager to hear more about Frank McCourt’s incredible, poignant life.
’Tis is the story of Frank’s American journey from impoverished immigrant with rotten teeth, infected eyes and no formal education to brilliant raconteur and schoolteacher. Saved first by a straying priest, then by the Democratic party, then by the United States Army, then by New York University – which admitted him on a trial basis though he had no high school diploma – Frank had the same vulnerable but invincible spirit at nineteen that he had at eight and still has today. And ‘Tis is a tale of survival as vivid, harrowing, and often hilarious as Angela’s Ashes. Yet again, it is through the power of storytelling that Frank finds a life for himself. ‘It is only the best storyteller who can so beguile his readers that he leaves them wanting more when he’s done…McCourt proves himself one of the very best’ (Newsweek). ‘Tis blesses readers with another chapter of McCourt’s story, but as it closes, they will want still more.
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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 dark humour 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, in which Angela's ashes are scattered over a Limerick graveyard. -- Wendy SmithReview:
Peter Collier "Los Angeles Times Book Review" "'Tis" has those elements that made "Angela's Ashes" such a success -- the narrative brio, the fierce sympathy for human tic and torment, the intuitive feel for character and, above all, the love of language and that very Irish understanding that words are our only weapon in our long quarrel with God.
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