Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt Dead at 78

Comes word from the New York Times and others that author Frank McCourt, most famous for the story of his Depression-era Irish childhood, Angela's Ashes, died this afternoon of cancer. McCourt, who was in his mid-sixties when Angela's Ashes was published, was recently treated for melanoma, according to the Times and had, in addition, contracted a serious case of meningitis. The death was announced by McCourt's brother, Malachy, who is also a writer.
Described in Newsweek as "the publishing industry's Cinderella story of the decade," "Angela's Ashes" rose to No. 1 on bestseller lists, was translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.

It also won the Pulitzer for biography and the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and was turned into a movie in 1999.

In the process, "Angela's Ashes" propelled its author from obscurity to fame and fortune.

The white-haired publishing sensation made the rounds of the talk shows, was the subject of a "60 Minutes" profile and was in constant demand as a speaker because, as Newsweek pointed out in 1999, "he's witty, articulate and he's got the perfect Irish brogue: lyrical but penetrable."

"At 66, you're supposed to die or get hemorrhoids," McCourt told the Hartford Courant in 2003. "I just wrote the book and was amazed and astounded that it became a bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize. It still hasn't sunk in."
I remember very well how taken I was with the book and the fact that it had been written by a man already retired from a lifetime's work. I think I found that fact more inspirational than anything in the book itself, although I did love that book. I've never gone back to reread it - and I wonder if it would work so well for me today. I may just have to find out.


  1. I just read that, also.

    Not only a great writer but a fine man.

    You should read his works again and find a new appreciation.

    I don't always comment on your blog but I really enjoy all that you write. Your love of real country music reminds me of my Dad. Among his favorites were Red Stegall and Kitty Wells.

  2. /hi first creation‘Angela’s Ashes’ will be legacy to his talent and for which he will be eternally rememberedFrank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish American raconteur and memoirist, he had the uncomparable ability to captivate his world-wide fan base with his unique literary style. ! May You R.I.P.