Sunday, August 30, 2009

Irish Hell

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I took an almost instant dislike to this book, and I'm not sure why exactly. I suppose it was like approaching an over-hyped movie. Titanic or whatever is never going to live up to the way it's been talked about, so there's sort of no way to enjoy it. But it didn't help that virtually everyone in the book was a child abusing ass. Aside from a priest the author met once, an uncle, and a kindly hospital janitor, everyone McCourt encountered--his parents, clergy, teachers, employers, doctors, relatives--were constantly screaming at him, beating him with sticks, neglecting him, blaming him, taunting or witholding. I suppose it's a simplistic way of appreciating a story, but it's hard to care about it when you're wishing all the characters straight to hell.

Meanwhile, McCourt's description of it all struck me as sort of flat. That's probably not surprising, but it makes it difficult to relate to him, too, despite his having almost no one on his side. My feeling is that if you're going to write the book of your ghastly childhood filled with unrelieved misery and neglect, that you should be offering us some perspective about it. This seemed to me just an unenlightened reliving of the damned thing, which serves no one but McCourt's therapist. Maybe he got some relief from just writing it down. I at least hope he is resting in peace now.

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1 comment:

Boomer said...

I listened to this one last fall. McCourt read it, and I liked it. Perhaps there was something in audio that made it not all quite as grim.