As we were watching the Walter Cronkite tribute on CBS this evening, we learned that Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of best-selling autobiography “Angela’s Ashes,” had died at the age of 78.
Reports say the McCourt, who was previously diagnosed with melanoma, died of meningitis.
McCourt was born in Brooklyn and returned to Ireland with his family when he was four years old, a story he retold with humor and ruefulness in “Angela’s Ashes.” McCourt was a former writing teacher (which he chronicled in his two other books “‘Tis” and “Teacher Man”) but didn’t get into book writing until later in his life.
Inspired, we pulled out our copy of “Ashes.” Our favorite part will always be the very beginning:
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.
People everywhere brag and whine about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years.
Above all — we were wet.”
(Photo by David Shankbone)