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  • 'Tis
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3.8 out of 5 stars106
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 19 September 2001
'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.
Although 'Tis' continues with the life of Frank McCourt a few unanswered questions frustrate throughout, particularly why did it take so long to write 'Angela's Ashes' following the triumphant debut University essay, 'The Bed'? From such an extraordinary life in Limerick to the abject normality of a teacher's lot in New York, the reader can only empathise with the apparent loss of exuberance and vivacity that, despite the unimaginable poverty, 'Angela's Ashes' portrayed.
'Tis' could never match McCourt's Pulitzer Prize winner, but as a reflection of one man's determination and soul searching it still remains a triumphant, if challenging, read.
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on 14 January 2008
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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on 18 December 2000
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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on 23 March 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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on 30 January 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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on 11 December 2006
The sequel to Angela's Ashes is an enchanting tale of what happens to Frank when he leaves the grimy, depressing slums of Limerick as a young man and travels on his own to America in search of a new life. 'Tis avoids the self pitying, sanctimonious tone of many memoirs of people who have toiled their way to fame, and, despite being a sequel, the book stands alone magnificently and is a totally rivetting read.

Frank's experiences in America, ranging from being a scorned cleaner in a hotel, an array of roles in the army, and various manual jobs, and his fight to better himself by going to college, are depicted in vivid, glorious detail, and there are numerous hilarious incidents, and colourful characters who grasp the reader's attention tenaciously and don't let go. Some of the scenes had me doubled up with laughter, in particular, the occasion when Frank tries to surreptitiously eat a slice of pie in the cinema, the time a pal of his is trying to dump a frozen joint of meat, which ends up being hauled away as a suspected accident victim, and Frank's wonderful and unconventional wedding.

Frank's transformation from a spotty, awkward,rotten-teethed, conjunctivitis-ridden boy to a confident young man is mesmerising, and the rites of passage of a young man discovering the world, sex, love and himself are painted with a beautifully light touch.

'Tis is a thoroughly hypnotic read, with moods and emotions spanning the whole gamut from fascinating insights through moving scenes to wonderfully entertaining anecdotes. McCourt manages to transform the everyday to an art form. This is a hard book to put down.
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on 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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on 4 May 2013
In my copy there are several pages of the most flowery North American praise for this awful potboiler. I think the Boston Globe talks of the return of "That magnificent voice".

Don't be fooled. They're patronising him, a man none of the US reviewers, then or now, would give house-room to when it was needed - patting the little professional Irishman on the back and having a bit of a go at the perfidious Saxon as well.

I bet they're all delighted every time there's a recrudescence of The Troubles; takes away their domestic responsibilities to - for example - their schoolchildren at the hands of gun-nuts; their hordes of sick exploited paupers, the black citizens of Louisiana, and the gross abuse of illegal immigrants. For starters.

So, if you want blarney it's here - and how tired you'll be of the fiddler's fart and the bladder which empties itself near your eyes (the latter is a kind and sympathetic way of describing someone weeping) by the time you're done with this long dull tome.

There's endless moaning and groaning about his host country's racist stereotyping every time he opens his mouth, but he does nothing to dispel any of it by his behaviour, and he sticks with "his own kind" as advised by various stupid nasty old men throughout. His own kind being, apparently, callous, lecherous, bad-tempered, abusive, dipsomaniac yobs and abusers of women. This is a man who starts the book knowing not a lot and ends it forty years later the same way.

Jokes are ideally made of more than colourful argot, and when that argot is repeated it very quickly becomes argot ad nauseam. It would be easier to sympathise, as well, with the tsunami of drool which is the author's self-pity, did he not seem so unaware of how obnoxious a man he sounds. The Displaced Person - that's Holocaust Survivor to you and I - he has sex with hard against the walls of Dachau (so she's not that displaced) is a starving, skeletal wreck, but this horrible episode is contaminated by McCourt's sub-species of humorous comment. Nothing, in fact, seems to rouse his anger and contempt like other people's distress and need. Michael what's left of him. Mrs Klein.

There is an alternative Irish stereotype in the book, a Marxist intellectual who plans revolution and has a heart and serious thought for his fellow man and woman. All too little is seen of him, and not much more of the pre-eminently noble and wise black man Horace. McCourt pays tribute to them both, but it's a pity he didn't spend more time with them and actually learn from them, because the book would be the richer for their presence and he might have a dash or so more self-awareness, which, despite all the me-me-me yabbering, it woefully and in the end overwhelmingly lacks.
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on 3 August 2004
I've spoken to quite a few people who have read this book and quite a few of them have told me they found it quite hard to get into. Fortunatly I didn't have that problem. I admire Mr McCourt's work very much. I loved his first book 'Angela's Ashes' which is why I chose to read his second. The thing I love the most is Frank's sense of humor. I don't know many people who can claim to have such a terrible childhood and struggle into adult life as he did and still have such a fantastic sense of humor about it. All I can say is I hope he made a lot of money from both of his books, he is a talented and truly deserving case!
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on 13 September 2001
'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.
Although 'Tis' continues with the life of Frank McCourt a few unanswered questions frustrate throughout, particularly why did it take so long to write 'Angela's Ashes' following the triumphant debut University essay, 'The Bed'? From such an extraordinary life in Limerick to the abject normality of a teacher's lot in New York, the reader can only empathise with the apparent loss of exuberance and vivacity that, despite the unimaginable poverty, 'Angela's Ashes' portrayed.
'Tis' could never match McCourt's Pulitzer Prize winner, but as a reflection of one man's determination and soul searching it still remains a triumphant, if challenging, read.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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