2 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Delightful and Distasteful,
This review is from: Angela's Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood (Paperback)When I first started listening to "Angela's Ashes" I was hoping for a glimpse into the life of the common Irish. Much of the book was an absolute delight, whole other parts were very distasteful.
"Angela's Ashes" is Frank McCourt's story of his life from his first memories in New York, through his childhood and teen years in Limerick until he is able to save enough to return to America on his own.
At the start of the book, McCourt says: "My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born...Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." He then writes a first person stream of consciousness narrative to prove his premise.
The parts of the book which were absolute delights were the parts in which one is treated to the language of the Irish with all of their peculiar phrases, expectations and beliefs. While listening to these selections, I was reminded of some of the phases which I have heard from my Irish born relatives. Some of the beliefs and world views illustrated did not seem so different from some of which I have heard or even held. There is just enough truth to make the quotations humorous.
The oppressive and endless poverty and burden of alcoholism are depressing but, in his as in too many families, real tragedies.
The characters are, perhaps, realistic dichotomies. Malachy, seems to be a good man when sober, but his weakness for the drink renders him an irresponsible father. Angela, the mother, seems to be a an incompetent personality who, somehow, manages to hold her family together when with little and, eventually, no help from Malachy. The initial, cold receptions of the McCourts by their families in Ireland ultimately give way to grudging acceptance and assistance. Frankie, the author and narrator, begins as a naive child who, forced by circumstances, becomes a self sufficient adult. Perhaps the tragedy of Frankie is that, immersed in a world of hardship and formal religion he learns much about self-sufficiency but little about morality.
The parts of the book which I found to be most distasteful were the later sections which degenerated into what would have to qualify the work for an "X" rating. Perhaps this is McCourt's ultimate way of proving his premise that the worst childhood is an Irish Catholic childhood. I suspect that this would have been a better book had the immorality been eliminated from the later sections, but, perhaps, it would not then have conveyed the intended message.
This book is enjoyable to read in parts and I am glad to know what it is about, but any endorsement would have to be lukewarm.
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Initial post: 12 Oct 2012 13:27:07 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Oct 2012 23:14:29 BDT]
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2012 15:29:05 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Oct 2012 15:35:20 BDT
James Gallen says:
Thanks for your comment.
I did not intend nor do I consider the comment you quote to be racist. If you consider "peculiar" to have a pejorative connotation, perhaps "unique" would have been a better choice.
Each culture has is own peculiar or unique phrases, expectations and beliefs and the Irish are no exception. One thing that I liked about this book was some of the phrases and comments reminded me of things I have heard from my own relatives.
Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts.
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