Jane's Reviews > Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
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Jan 20, 12

bookshelves: fiction, unforgettable
Read in January, 2012

Where I got the book: my bookshelf (it was assigned for one of my kids' English classes).

I finally got round to reading the book after listening--twice--to the excellent audiobook, read by Frank McCourt himself. So I had the music of his voice with me as I read. But the music is also in the writing.

I've often seen literary agents write that to be published, a memoir has to have a strong voice and a really unique story. McCourt wins on both accounts. Reading this book is exactly like having someone sitting opposite you, telling his story; the writing rambles on, without punctuated dialogue, and yet it's as clear as a bell.

And what a story. Brutal, poignant, touching and funny. There are two points in the story which always, on audio or on the page, reduce me to tears, and both involve a priest. The memoir is steeped in Irish Catholic faith and superstition, seen from the distance of years with fond, mocking eyes.

McCourt doesn't spare himself or his parents; I find myself wondering if he's left anything out at all. But the story's suffused with wisdom and understanding, even for his drink-addicted father.

This is a book you should read if you want to understand what people mean when they say a writer should have a strong voice. The rhythms of McCourt's writing stayed with me for hours after I put the book down.

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