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Tis: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Frank McCourt
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Sep 1999

From the author of the million-selling Angela’s Ashes – the most keenly anticipated sequel of the decade

’The reader of this stunning memoir can only hope that Mr McCourt will set down the story of his subsequent adventures in America in another book. Angela’s Ashes is so good it deserves a sequel.’ MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times

Angela’s Ashes was a publishing phenomenon. Frank McCourt’s critically acclaimed, lyrical memoir of his Limerick childhood won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Award amongst others, and rapidly became a word-of-mouth bestseller topping all charts worldwide for over two years. It left readers and critics alike eager to hear more about Frank McCourt’s incredible, poignant life.

’Tis is the story of Frank’s American journey from impoverished immigrant with rotten teeth, infected eyes and no formal education to brilliant raconteur and schoolteacher. Saved first by a straying priest, then by the Democratic party, then by the United States Army, then by New York University – which admitted him on a trial basis though he had no high school diploma – Frank had the same vulnerable but invincible spirit at nineteen that he had at eight and still has today. And ‘Tis is a tale of survival as vivid, harrowing, and often hilarious as Angela’s Ashes. Yet again, it is through the power of storytelling that Frank finds a life for himself. ‘It is only the best storyteller who can so beguile his readers that he leaves them wanting more when he’s done…McCourt proves himself one of the very best’ (Newsweek). ‘Tis blesses readers with another chapter of McCourt’s story, but as it closes, they will want still more.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; 1st. Edition edition (22 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002570807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002570800
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The sequel to Frank McCourt's memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela's Ashes, picks up the story in October 1949 upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his "pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth," has little in common with the healthy, self-assured college students he sees on the subway and dreams of joining in the classroom. Initially, his American experience is as harrowing as his impoverished youth in Ireland, including two of the grimmest Christmases ever described in literature. McCourt views the U.S. through the same sharp eye and dark humour that distinguished his first memoir; race prejudice, casual cruelty and dead-end jobs weigh on his spirits as he searches for a way out. A glimpse of hope comes from the army, where he acquires some white-collar skills, and from New York University, which admits him without a high school diploma. But the journey toward his position teaching creative writing at Stuyvesant High School is neither quick nor easy. Fortunately, McCourt's openness to every variety of human emotion and longing remains exceptional; even the most damaged, difficult people he encounters are richly rendered individuals with whom the reader can't help but feel uncomfortable kinship. The magical prose, with its singing Irish cadences, brings grandeur and beauty to the most sorrowful events, including the final scene, in which Angela's ashes are scattered over a Limerick graveyard. --Wendy Smith


Peter Collier "Los Angeles Times Book Review" "'Tis" has those elements that made "Angela's Ashes" such a success -- the narrative brio, the fierce sympathy for human tic and torment, the intuitive feel for character and, above all, the love of language and that very Irish understanding that words are our only weapon in our long quarrel with God. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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When the MS Irish Oak sailed from Cork in October 1949, we expected to be in New York City in a week. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as good as Angela's Ashes 14 Jan 2008
By Chelli
It's very rare a sequel to an autobiography is anywhere near as good as the first, but this flows straight on from Angela's Ashes in exactly the same detailed evocative prose. Frank's life as a naive just off the boat Irish man in New York is every bit as fascinating as his poverty stricken childhood in Ireland. There's a touch more humour and a touch less misery but the tale is still full of intriguing characters and events.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a triumphant, if challenging, read. 19 Sep 2001
By A Customer
'Tis' holds parallels with 'Sons & Lovers', albeit set in the bustling metropolis of post-war New York as opposed to 19th century Nottinghamshire. The educated elder son of an awkward mother and absent father struggles to find his own identity in a land that displays prejudice against his background and compulsively remarks at 'the Irish brogue'.
The young adult Frankie takes several menial jobs and has to endure providential college students who ride the trains: handsome guys and wholesome girls with perfect teeth and skin and NYU folders flaunting their superiority. A stretch in the army enables Frankie to learn useful administrative skills, and he finally pleads to be allowed to study at NYU, eventually becoming a teacher.
At this point, McCourt's memoirs cease to follow the path of 'Angela's Ashes', and with each progressive chapter the verse loses the lilt and cadence that so coloured the previous work. Writing that was once a joy to read becomes tedious and monotonous: the repetitive references to life back in Limerick and seemingly endless prose leading apparently nowhere. The reader is left confused by Frankie's attitude towards his family and somewhat weary with the dry anecdotes of his time spent teaching dispassionate students.
As with DH Lawrence, however, one can only share McCourt's obvious frustration with his life, particularly the way he feels trapped between the life of a bohemian, listening to jazz and discussing philosophy, and the comfort and security of his wife, child and home. As such, Frankie seldom seems to learn any lessons from his experiences or those of his family. Students, and their fashions, come and go but McCourt treads slowly along, disenchanted and unable to find fulfilment.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously written 18 Dec 2000
By A Customer
Frank McCourt has a wonderful style of writing that ties the reader to the pages. He writes in a conversational manner which makes the entire book seem like a story your friend Frank was telling you. The story continues from Angela's Ashes and young McCourt lands himself in America. As a European living in America for a while, I encountered the same oddities and quirks about the Amerikcan McCourt found when he described his experiences in America. All and all it's an entertaining story to read, and and definetly an engaging book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Tis a long read 23 Mar 2004
This book picks up exactly where Angela's Ashes left off - on the boat to America. Having enjoyed McCourt's first memoir, I was looking forward to this follow up. At first I preferred it - It was less harrowing! There were still mentions of Ireland to jog your memory if you had not read the prequel for a while, and it was full of tales of how he settled into New York, girls he met and his time in the army.
After a while the story started to wane. There was little or no mention of Ireland and the family after Frank went for a visit, and his family came over to the US for a visit. There were plenty of teacher's tales, but I felt he was almost padding the book out until he got to a suitable ending (which he did). I feel he was very vague with references to how his family got on after a while also. You know they got on with their own lives, but you don’t know if they were happy or successful.
The style of writing is as Angela's Ashes, no speech marks are used, just indentations. For the most part it is an easy read, those it does get a bit repetitive in parts. I still enjoyed this book, and fans of Angela's Ashes would also enjoy it, just don't expect more of the same.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars informative, interesting and well written 13 May 2002
...'Tis is a remarkable story and very well written in a unique style.
McCourt has a clear voice which cleverly succeeds in combining the voice and problems of an Irish/American in 1950's New York, with the mental turmoil and doubt which accompanies us all in times of personal crisis. There were times when I thought the book was becoming a little long with repeated formulas of diction, but this too draws out the drudgery and repetition of a life in which he dragged himself from the lowest positions in New York to supporting himself through University and becoming a succesfull teacher and writer.
When I finished the book the hackles on the back of my neck stood up and I began writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One to buy 30 Jan 2002
After reading Angela's Ashes and loving it I wasn't that keen on reading what can sometimes be a poor sequel. After reading the first page of Frank McCourt's Tis I was gripped. McCourt manages to lead you into the journey of life. Predominantly set in post war New York it tells the story of a man who wants to turn a dream into reality. The man who wants to discover the joys of America and the girls with white teeth. As you wander through his life with him and encounter the prejudice, the love and loss of so many of his dreams you can't help but wonder whether Ireland would have been better for him. Towards the end of the book, it begins to lack flare and begins to tire a little but to be honest the rest of the book makes up for it. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who likes this kind of genre. Even if you haven't read Angela's Ashes you could still follow it because it does acknowledge his past. After finishing it, you want to read it again just to join and share McCourt's life. Its gripping, powerful and provocative. Not as good as Angela's Ashes but well worth a buy! When's the next book?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
So sorry, I thought I was reviewing this book, but afterwards realised I sent my comment with Teacher Man, which we have not read as yet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Linda McRae
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a good book
A good read couldn't put it down although no where near as good as Angela's ashes a good read mind.
Published 3 months ago by sheila
4.0 out of 5 stars Frank Mc Court "Tis a memoir
As in Angela's ashes Mr Mc Courts style of writing is so refreshing. Although I really enjoyed the book I did not quite find it as spellbinding as Angela's Ashes. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Doreen Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of 'Tis
I would recommend this product to anybody. He is the only author that ever had me laughing and crying at the same time

I would just like to ask if there is anywhere -... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Linda Cassidy
4.0 out of 5 stars 'tis not
Frank McCourt has certainly lived the life, and has a great sense of humour, but for me this book runs out of steam. Read more
Published 9 months ago by B. L. Rudd
1.0 out of 5 stars Repetitious and mediocre
In my copy there are several pages of the most flowery North American praise for this awful potboiler. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Y
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I wanted to know what happened to Frank. A good read but not the same impact as Angela's Ashes. How could it when the most sympathy must go to children. Read more
Published 15 months ago by janet catherine sudworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
great book, I would recommend this after you've read Angela's ashes, it is a follow up on the life in America, I couldn't get enough
Published 18 months ago by Anna
5.0 out of 5 stars After reading Angela's Ashes \I was looking forward to reading...
I found Angela's Ashes haunted me, a powerful, moving and at the same time humorous account of his poverty stricken childhood in Limerick, I wanted to know what happened to him and... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Cynthia
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first volume
The innocent humour of the first book is lost in this second volume which, although interesting, is not riviting. A bit disappointing!
Published 19 months ago by Emma Harris
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