Frank McCourt, a master storyteller, died Sunday, July 19 at the age of 78. McCourt had a varied life from a childhood ravaged by poverty in Ireland, three marriages, thirty years as a teacher in New York, and then, almost as an afterthought, about fifteen years as a world-renowned writer.
McCourt was well known as the English teacher you had if you wanted to write and changed thousands of lives in the New York City public school system before changing millions of lives around the world with his stirring memoirs. Angela’s Ashes, his breakout book, detailed his cruel childhood in gruesome deatil. Though the story was dark, it was not without humor. As his students knew for years, McCourt knew how to craft a story, and which often means artfully weaving the worst things in life together with the best.
Angela’s Ashes was followed by ‘Tis, which chronicles his life as a young immigrant in post World War II New York. In his last memoir, Teacher Man, McCourt wrote about his 30 years as a teacher, a job he found great struggles and joys in.
In Teacher Man McCourt reveals that he often thought himself a fraud as a teacher, but his many students have taken the time after his death to proclaim him as a master teacher, and a master storyteller. Though McCourt spent most of his life teaching other people to write, his students felt relief and vindication when he achieved such wide-spread success with the craft they knew all along he had perfected.
~ Lynn Cinnamon