Saturday, September 01, 2007

Book Review- 'Tis A Memoir

I haven't read Frank McCourt's Angela Ashes, and the only reason I bought this book was because I had to return another in exchange, and my friend just didn't stop talking about Angela's Ashes.
The book is well written, the language not very clean, but I've seen worse, and the author doesn't use a single quotation mark throughout the book, which makes it more fun to read.
Some parts made me laugh out loud in the middle of the nights.
This part was very emotional, but nice.

When I worked on the platform with him I wondered how he could keep his fists to himself. Instead he'd put his head down and have a little smile and I thought he might be a bit deaf or simple in his mind but I knew he wasn't deaf
and the way he talked about his son getting an education in Canada showed that
if he'd had a chance he would have been in a university himself.
He's coming out of a diner on Laight Street and whne he sees me, he smiles,
Oh, mon. I must have known you were coming. I got a hero sandwich a mile long and beer. We eat on the pier, okay?

I'm ready to walk back down on Laight Street to the pier but he steers me away. He doesn't want the men at the warehouse to see us. They'd ride him all day. They'd laugh and ask Horace when he knew my mother. that makes me want to defy them and walk Laight Street even more. No mon, he says. Save your emotions for bigger things.

This is a big thing, Horace.

It's nothing, mon. It's ignorance.

We should fight back.

No, son.

God, he's calling me son.

No son. I don't have time for fighting back. I wont step on their ground. I pick my own fights. I have a son in college. I have a wife who is ailing and still cleaning offices at night on Broad Street. Eat your sandwich, mon.


...all I can do is weep with the sadness in it and I feel so foolish I'd like to rest my head on his shoulder and he knows that because he moves closer, puts his arm around me as if I were his own son, the two of us black or white or nothing, and it doesn't matter because there's nothing to do but put down the sandwich...

...I tell him what my mother use to say when we cried, Oh, your bladder must be near your eye, and he laughs.

I loved this part because it portrayed the African-American man quite well, and the fact that Frank, a white man, wanted him to be his father, which shows immense respect for him.

Towards the end of the book, his mother comes to stay with him, and that's probably the worst part of reality of this world. She has 4 sons, but none of the patient enough to take her. She visits one son and then the next, all 4 in New York, but all with their own set of problems, ignorant of their poor mother's plight, and she ends up living alone, dying a lonely death...
The rest is too sad to talk about.

I felt there was something about this book that took away from my spirituality. Perhaps it was the swearing every few pages or how much of his life was spent in bars drinking- and I'd ask myself why I'm reading it in the first place. I think I mostly continued because I wanted to know how successful he becomes in the end, as an English teacher, and to read about the part of his life as a teacher, which was good.

But after reading this book, I'm less inclined to read more fiction books. But McCourt definitely has a genius for mimicry and uniqueness.


Anonymous said...

If Frank McCourt's memoir took away from your spirituality I question whether you actually understand your spirituality. I also question whether you have empathy as you did not understood his (spirituality). Advice--don't read his other books if you are this insensitive and naive to the reality of the world. More advice--don't read anything that reflects reality.

Humairah Irfan said...

True what you said.
I think you're right about me being naive. If I was really sensitive to the reality of this world, I'd be out there trying to improve things, but, I just sit here, in my comfort zone.