McCourt was born in Brooklyn but moved with his family at the age of four to his parent’s native Ireland. Angela’s Ashes chronicles his life in Ireland until the age of nineteen when he opted to move back to America. The title refers to Frank’s siblings, the children of his mother Angela who passed away during McCourt’s early life. His distinct use of descriptive narrative puts the reader into the squalor in which McCourt lived. The first person dialogue makes the reader feel McCourt’s appropriate age during various sections of the novel,
It is an interesting way to address the characters or rather people in Frank McCourt’s life. In the early parts of the book, when McCourt is a young boy the dialogue is appropriate for his young age but it manages to read clearly. It is difficult to properly describe without reading the novel in its entirety. As the character ages so do does the book itself. The description remains constant but the characters, their interactions, and the prose, mature right along with the Frank McCourt.
McCourt moved to the United States in 1949, and his second novel Tis picks up right where Angela’s Ashes ends. This book using similar style and narrative covers a majority of McCourt’s adult life, living, working and teaching in New York City. While it wasn’t as well received as Angela’s Ashes, one can only assume the horror that was McCourt’s early life, was too difficult to top in the follow up effort, per se.
In 2005 Frank McCourt released his final memoir Teacher Man about his time as an educator at various institutions in the New York area. It was a fitting finale to the life of Frank McCourt as it completed his life’s trilogy from youth, to adolescent, to adult.
Frank McCourt passed away in 2009 due to complications from melanoma but his wit and writing prowess are not soon to be forgotten. He used a unique, real style to his writing that transported the reader unceremoniously to the downtrodden lanes of Limerick where McCourt grew up. That style allows all to live how he did from page to page.