Angela's Ashes is a memoir written by Frank McCourt. The author also narrates this unabridged audio version. Pulitzer Prize winner for Autobiography, Angela's Ashes tells a saga spanning an ocean. Though some think of this book as sorrowful, many who have heard McCourt tell his story can hear the joy he felt over the smallest victory of finding a meal and can understand the sense of humor that he developed in order to bear these blows of life. This is thought of as a classic in memoir literature, and was adapted for a film. Living in poverty as a child, McCourt reveals those days into his adult years in the cities of Limerick, Ireland and Brooklyn, New York. He struggled with his father's alcoholism and with his mother's rescuing nature, which preserved their family unit for a time.
He was born in the thirties in New York to Irish immigrants, and later returned with them to the desolate slumhouses of Limerick, Ireland. The name Angela is his mother's, and she scrounged with what little money she had left over from his father's alcohol binges. His dad didn't work much in the first place. Though sometimes Frank had to wear soles on his shoe from rubber of a tire, and though sometimes he had to beg for pork head for holiday meals, and though he had to look for his dad in pubs, he is still able to tell us these stories with hope, grace, and humanity.
Frank McCourt was a teacher for years, and originally got himself into college without a high school degree by talking his way into New York University and promising to maintain an average grade of a B+. He died from cancer in 2009.
"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive 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."
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.
Perhaps it is a story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.
Imbued with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion -- and movingly read in his own voice -- Angela's Ashes is a glorious audiobook that bears all the marks of a classic.
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