Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Frank McCourt


It was McCourt's desperately poor childhood which made him a wealthy man. He had spent a full career as a high school teacher and occasional lecturer by the time his first memoir was published, when he was in his mid-60s.

This guy certainly made lemonade out of what seems to have been a truly tragic upbringing. His alcoholic father drank the family into perpetual poverty, dooming his family to life in a shack with no electricity or running water. McCourt reports that raw sewage from the public lavatory next door regularly flooded his floors, and mushrooms grew out of the damp tweed clothes which never dried out.

Angela's Ashes spent a whopping 117 weeks on the New York Times' Bestseller List and won the Pulitzer. He followed up that success with two subsequent memoirs, 'Tis, the story of his arrival in Manhattan at the age of 19, and Teacher Man, the history of his days as a public school teacher.

In the years previous to his phenomenal literary success, McCourt toured the country with his brother Malachy, telling stories and singing songs, in a vaudeville they called A Couple of Blaguards.
Frank died last weekend at the age of 78.