Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reading a Memoir

Yesterday I finished reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.  I picked it up at the church book sale a few weeks ago and just got around to reading it this week.  It's not my usual reading, since it's memoir, not fiction, but it's one of those titles that I'd obviously heard of, and I think everyone reads.

And there's a good reason everyone reads it, it's quite good.

It's the story of Frank's childhood in Ireland (though it does start in the US) in extreme poverty.  He loses siblings, his father is an alcoholic, he nearly died of Typhoid, etc...  It's a pretty dreary story, but told so well through the eyes of a child that it's filled with humor and innocence.  And the best part, it reads like poetry. 

When I started it, I thought to myself "man, this reads like James Joyce, only it makes sense."  When I read one of the reviews on the back it said nearly the same thing.  James Joyce wrote with beautiful rhythm and really captured the sounds of the Irish language.  Unfortunately, James Joyce also wrote in a style that was way before his time, and the current time even, making it necessary to read his books with a second book that explains what you are reading in the first book.  (Seriously, Ulysses is 643 pages and Ulysses Annotated is 643 pages, you have to read them both or you aren't going to have a clue what you are reading.)

So I thoroughly enjoyed Angela's Ashes and I thank Mr. McCourt for writing so beautifully. 

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