Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 1997
National Book Critics Circle, Biography/Autobiography, 1997
Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, movingly read in his own voice, bears all the marks of a classic. Born in Depression-era Brooklyn to Irish immigrant parents, Frank was later raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. His mother, Angela, had no money to feed her children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely worked, and when he did, he drank his wages. Angela's Ashes is the story of how Frank endured - wearing shoes repaired with tires, begging for a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father - a tale he relates with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.
©1997 Frank McCourt, All Rights Reserved; (P)1997 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved, Audioworks is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division Simon & Schuster Inc.
"Frank McCourt is a marvelous writer whose words are made all the better when he reads them aloud..." (Bookpage)
"...one of the best I've heard in years." (The Boston Globe)
"...so good it deserves a sequel" (The New York Times)
Sometimes the audio version of a good book can be ruined by a bad reader (too much Broadway or something). And sometimes a good reader can cause a book that's boring on paper to come alive in the audio version. But it's a rare and wonderful combination when a top-notch book is brought to life in a top-notch way by its own author in the audio version, especially if it's a memoir. This is an example of that blessed phenomenon. Some people find Angela's Ashes to be depressing, but I find it to be just the opposite. McCourt's attitude is inspiring. He got through his terrible childhood, and triumphed. The pathos is generously tempered with humor. I love this book, and I love to listen to McCourt himself read it to me.
I hesitated on getting this book. All I had envisioned about this story, including the picture on the book cover, told me it would be a sad, dark, and depressing tale. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Ethnic tales have always captivated me, but they were usually stories from MY ehtnic background. I am not irish and this tale still cpativated me. The child's perspective was so true ...like not understanding what it meant to die for one's country. And the author was able to bring this out in his own voice so well.
Many literary masterpieces leave me cold. But not this one. I truly understand why the Pulitzer was awarded. Nothing was sugar coated. There were awful things that happened, yet the hope came out. Whether his parents were stupid, or loosers, or just plain ignorant ...they were his parents and he loved them. And they loved him. We should all be so lucky.
I absolutely loved this book. Be patient at the beginning, as the book is read by an old man from a child's perspective. Once you get used to this, it is a joy. I cried and laughed. Frank's accent makes this book absolutely priceless in audio format. Though I wasn't raised in poverty or with an alcoholic father, I was struck by how much I related to Frank's childhood experiences. His treatment of sex, religion, and the general anxieties that accompany adolescence really hit home with me. This has been one of my favorite books on Audible. Don't forget to get the sequel, 'Tis, as it is also excellent.
I have been listening to the book for 10 hours now and still I've got a smile on my face and the tears in my eyes. I gained so much respect for Frank Mccourt. How can a man "walk" back through his "miserable Irish Catholic childhood", (The happy childhood is hardly worthwhile) and be there as if it was yesterday and take YOU there and meet the characters around him as if you could shake their hands - with his Irish accent, simple illustrative words (buckety pram, wee children) respectful impersonations and his sweet warm voice - and make you see that every second of life IS worthwhile.
And for the ones who think the book is depressing: Go and stand beside Francis look through his eyes, he'll make you see. Who said it's easy?
I'm supposing that most book lovers have already come across Angela's Ashes by this time -- so many prizes, so many awards, so much well-deserved international acclaim. I read the book when it first came out, loved it so much I then bought the audiotapes -- on cassette -- and listened to them several times over. One time, I remember listening on the long drive from Sacramento to Southern California, and I recall driving into urban Los Angeles crying so hard I could hardly see the road. It's that kind of book -- one that will have you both laughing and crying within the same minute. It's just priceless.
Somewhere along the way the cassettes got lost, so when I saw the book again on Audible, I was delighted. I haven't listened to it for maybe ten years, so it was new to me all over again. One of the delights of this book is seeing yourself reflected in what McCourt writes. My background is about as radically different from his as is possible to to be, for two English-speakers, anyway, but still, there are parts that resonate personally with me so much. When he's talking about his school days, there are time when I feel myself saying, "I remember that!" although of course I don't. Not exactly. But McCourt's book is like that -- it draws you in, and makes his story resonate in your own mind.
Author-read books are always the best, and in this case, McCourt is exceptional. No one can tell his own stories like he can, and you feel you're in the same room with him, listening as he tells you what it was like.
If you haven't read or listened to Angela's Ashes in a while, it's time to do it again. And if you've never come across it before, wow -- are you lucky! To listen to this book for the first time is really a wonderful thing.
I expected to like this book, since it was a Pulitzer Prize winner, and it was fine, but after awhile it just got repetitious. Both the story -- sad, poverty-infused anecdote after sad, poverty-infused anecdote -- and the sometimes sing-song narration of the author became just more and more of the same.
I did appreciate the wonderful Irish humor that buoyed the narrative, keeping it just above the surface of total despair. As an American descended from Irish immigrants, I found myself thinking about my deceased mother, who undoubtedly would have loved the book, and imagining the lives of my Irish ancestors.
No, I generally enjoy memoirs.
As the author, he both added and detracted from the book. Since it's a memoir, he lent an authenticity to the story that would have been absent had the book been read by someone else. It was enjoyable to hear his Irish accent ... and yet at times, his delivery became somewhat repetitious (same tone and pitch). In those instances, I think an actor would have done a better job.
I was immediately captivated by Mr. McCort's wonderful speaking voice, which completely drew me into the narrative of his childhood. The subtle humor of this man sprinkled over the adventures and tragedies of his childhood brought laughter and tears, and a vivid comprehension a life beginning in such abject poverty. I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a historic reality lesson, or has ever or never known love or despair or poverty. Frank McCort is living proof that there is hope for us all!!
Mr. McCort is a marvelous writer and story-teller, and I intend to read every word he has ever written.
The draw of this book has everything to do with the writer's incredible talent for colorful and moving story telling, and a writing style that comes alive with McCourt's uncomplicated and free flowing Irish accented narration. Frank McCourt's amazing life story is a not just a must-read, but a Classic.
When I described this book to a friend of mine, she said "Eeeew, sounds depressing." But it wasn't depressing, because of the hope the children and their parents had of a better day, and the love they had for each other despite their many flaws. McCourt is straightforward and honest about his family, showing his father to be loving and attentive, but with an alcohol addiction that is devastating to his family. The author paints accurate portraits of the characters, including himself, and the result is a book rich with humanity, frustration, hope, and humor. To hear it in his own voice is a treat. It's one of those books I almost wish I hadn't read, since I'll never again be able to experience it for the first time. But I'll listen to it again several times, and I suspect I'll find new and interesting things I missed in my original listening. I've recommended it to nearly everyone I know, and I'm surprised I haven't yet been asked to find something else to talk about.
I thouroughly enjoyed Mr. McCourt's reading of the remarkable store of his chilhood. His repeated descriptions of his emotions when telling about events he remembers from his childhood make the stories come alive. The reading also brought back memories from my own childhood and the emotions I felt at the time those events were happening. I look forward to hearing more from Mr. McCourt.
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