am 12. März 2002
I've read so many reviews of 'tis and find the comparison between it and Angela's Ashes to be wrong. The main character is the same but the story being told is completely different. Angela's Ashes is a tough, hard narrative about growing up in the slums of Limerick told through the eyes (and pen) of a boy whose goal in life is to keep himself and his brothers alive. A truly disturbing history of a boyhood with seemingly no future, or, as McCourt himself said, it wouldn't have been worth writing about. 'Tis on the other hand is the progression from boy to man in a foreign land with all the hardships, downfalls and sad-happy moments that only an immigrant or a slave can experience. The prose in 'Tis starts with the naive style that was dominant in Angela's Ashes but as the author matures from an (almost) innocent 19 year old to a sharp witted, sometimes ironic middle aged teacher, the prose also follows the same emotional development. If a comparison can be drawn between the two books then only in as much that both books are bittersweet, brutally honest and above all thoroughly open-hearted. I'm looking forward, in the next 20 years, to McCourt's recollections of being a retired grandfather! Frank McCourt has touched my soul....
am 15. Mai 2007
Es fällt mir schwer, die Beschreibung dieses Buches kurz zu halten (sonst liest sie keiner!). Denn die Bücher von Frank McCourt sind reiche Bücher. Ich könnte schwelgen und schwärmen...
Ich habe "Angela's Ashes" gerne gelesen, auch wenn ich mir immer bewusst war, dass diese Lebensgeschichte/Familiengeschichte keine Fiktion ist, sondern bitter gelebtes Leben.
Das zweitletzte Kapitel in "Angela's Ashes" erzählt, wie sich Frank McCourt auf die Reise macht in die neue Welt. Der letzte Satz dieses zweitletzten Kapitels ist: "Isn't this a great country alltogether?". Im allerletzten Kapitel liest der Leser nur ein Wort: "'Tis".
Und dies ist der Titel des zweiten Teils seiner Autobiografie:
Nun gehen wir mit ihm auf die Reise in ein neues Leben, das nichts mit dem kargen irischen Leben zu tun hat. Das "great country" ist jedoch zunächst nicht zu bemerken. McCourt findet sehr schnell Arbeit auf der Tellerwäscherebene, wenn man das amerikanische Klischee hier bemühen kann, er kann die Mutter zuhause in Irland mit wöchentlich 10 Dollar unterstützen. Aber er leidet unter seinen pausenlos entzündeten roten verklebten Augen, er schämt sich als "Mick" unter den schönen Amerikanern mit deren schönen Zähnen. Er erzählt von Rassendiskriminierung, immer wieder hört er von seinen Landsmännern den Ratschlag: Keep to your own kind. Auf Partys hört er junge übersättigte Amerikaner über Selbstmord spekulieren, da alles so sinnlos sei. Er wohnt in Boarding Houses zusammen mit zahlreichen anderen Männern. In einem dieser Häuser teilen sich 15 Männer ein Handtuch. Irgendwann kommt der Zeitpunkt, wo einer der Männer sich ein eigenes Handtuch kauft, wahrscheinlich für den Gegenwert eines Whiskeys, und diese Aktion ist so etwas wie der Beginn eines neuen Zeitalters. Über Jahre kämpft McCourt ums Überleben, denn auch er beginnt sein Geld zu versaufen, wie damals in Irland sein Vater. Als amerikanischer GI wird er nach Bayern versetzt, was er dort erlebt, ist für mich als Bayerin durchaus Zeitgeschichte.
Was ihn eigentlich rettet: er beginnt zu lesen.
Es gäbe so viel zu erzählen über dieses Buch! Ich kann nur raten: Selber lesen. Wer "Angela's Ashes" gelesen hat, wird das ohnehin tun.
Die Sätze McCourts sind von großer Schönheit und Schnelligkeit. Sie scheinen geschrieben zu sein unmittelbar in dem erzählten Zeitraum: Eindrücke eines Einwanderers, der gerade erst das Schiff verlassen hat, für den alles neu ist. Als McCourt den Roman geschrieben hat, war er jedoch ein erwachsener Mann, der lange in Amerika lebte und Amerika als seine Heimat empfindet. Dass hier nach Jahrzehnten aus der Sicht eines älteren Herrn Jugenderinnerungen erzählt werden, das musste ich mir bewusst immer wieder vor Augen führen, denn die Sprache ist die Sprache eines jungen Menschen beim Übergang vom Jugendlichen zum Erwachsenen. Ich glaube, McCourt hat sein Leben lang Notizen aufgeschrieben, nur so kann ich mir diese Sprache erklären.
Frank McCourt hat nur diese drei Bücher geschrieben - Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, Teacher Man, aber mit ihnen hat er alles gegeben.
am 6. November 2001
Frank McCourts fesselnder Schreibstil kommt auch in Tis' optimal zur Geltung, obwohl die Geschichte an sich nicht ganz so packend und bewegend wie Angelas Ashes ist. Wen sein trockener irischer Humor gefällt, wird auch an diesem Buch grosse Freude haben.
am 18. Februar 2000
There are very few books that I wish I never bothered to pick up and read, but this is one of them! Frank McCourt wrote a beautifully insightful and humorous book, and then ruined the warm fuzzy feelings with his sequel. Rather than feeling empathetic towards the characters described in Tis: A Memoir, I felt pity and a certain amount of contempt. In this respect the author does succeed in evoking an emotional response from his readers, but I'm certain it is not the intended one. This is the story of a young struggling man, fresh off the boat from Ireland. He whines and complains and lets us know ad nauseum how unfair it all is. While his mother is treated with respect and care, his wife (neighbors, co-workers, students)suffer abuse. The style maybe the same as in Angela's Ashes, but with none of the humour and depth of human spirit.
am 28. Januar 2003
Frank McCourt hat für mich mit seinen beiden Bücher die Seelen der irischen Menschen getroffen! Humor ist wenn man trotzdem lacht. Ich habe gelacht und geheult und teilweise gleichzeitig!
am 28. Dezember 1999
Author Frank McCourt may refer to himself as the "Mick of the moment" but in three years, he truly has soared from being a retired New York City school teacher to literary phenomenon.
In 1996, people around the world were moved by McCourt's poignant memories of growing up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Angela's Ashes has topped best seller lists for two years and won a Pulitzer Prize. Critics and admiring readers alike have been awaiting a sequel and now 'Tis here. 'Tis, A Memoir picks up where Angela's Ashes left off. As a matter of fact, the title refers directly to the final sentence in Angela's Ashes, serving as response to a sailor's question; "Isn't this a great country altogether?"
'Tis covers the years from 1949 to 1985, when young Frank arrived in New York City. We follow this bewildered young Irishman with the bad teeth and infected red eyes, as he strives for the suburban, picket fence "tormenting American dream".
'Tis, the sequel can certainly stand alone, but I would suggest reading Angela's Ashes first, in order to fully understand the nuances and angst of this son of an alcoholic. Malachy McCourt literally abandoned his young family to starvation in Ireland while he drank his war factory wages in England. Like all children of alcoholics, Frank McCourt yearns for an explanation of how a father could "choose the bottle over the babies".
McCourt's life in the New World was no bed of roses either, as he progressed from cleaning up after the glamorous Ivy Leaguers partying in the Biltmore Hotel to the casual brutality of military life in Germany. After a post army stint loading meat on the docks, McCourt finally finagled his way into college via the GI Bill and some Irish blarney. He then settled into life as teacher, erratic family man and veteran storyteller in the pubs of New York.
In cultural and political perspective, this sequel is much broader in scope than the childhood memoir. McCourt's Dickensian descriptions of boarding house room mates and the edgy comradey of the docks makes for riveting reading. Just imagine 12 boarders sharing 2 towels and 8 beds.
Equally gritty are the descriptions of Frank's military career. Drafted into the US Army at the outset of the Korean War, McCourt ended up in Germany in the Canine corps "despite no rapport whatsoever with dogs". German prostitutes and military typing instructors provided future opportunities for growth. Here again, irony alternates with pathos. A report on the "benefits of kotex in padding the shoulders of the fighting men of America", is followed by a heart wrenching tale of delivering laundry to Dachau. Frank decided against saying three Hail Marys at the ovens because "Jesus hadn't been any way helpful to the Jews in those times".
Angela, McCourt's mother remains a powerful presence throughout 'Tis, as she comes to America to spend her final years with her sons. Frank maintains a complicated relationship with her that will be recognized by all caregivers of aging parents-equal parts love and exasperation. Angela's boys continually tried to please her, but never quite succeeded. When she finally died (still complaining) Frank's reaction: "I thought I'd know.....the fine high mourning..to suit the occasion. I didn't know I'd feel like a child cheated".
While there is no poetry in real grinding poverty, McCourt evokes poetic truth in the story of his survival. Always he was able to find escape and solace in books and the reading room of the New York Public Library. He was guided to this haven by a surly bar tender who directed him to the building with the two stone lions and told him not to come back until he had read "The Lives of the English Poets".
McCourt's observations about the icons of literature are fascinating. He was probably most influenced by Sean O'Casey- "the first Irish writer I ever read who writes about rags.dirt, hunger and babies dying". (McCourt had lost three siblings). Later on as a teacher, Frank finds ways to pass on this love of the written word, both to the tough blue collar kids of a Staten Island Vocational School, and to the upwardly mobile preppies of the prestigious Stuyvesant High School. As a veteran substitute teacher in Toronto's inner city schools, I found a truth in McCourt's classroom experiences that I've never read anywhere else. Some McCourt verities: " Teachers are the only professionals who have to respond to bells every forty-five minutes, and come out fighting".......
"Vocational schools are the garbage cans of the school system and the teachers are there to sit on the lids". Frank learned early on that "any group of experienced students in an American classroom can break any inexperienced teacher". These impressions however all fade when he makes the magic break through and begins to genuinely connect with these young minds. "I had to begin enjoying the act of teaching, and the only way I could do this was to start over, teach what I loved, and to hell with the curriculum". It's a joy to read of these "Eureka moments" in his long teaching career.
Throughout 'Tis, McCourt doesn't pretend to be any Horation Alger hero. In real life he overplays the Irish card, carousing with brothers Malachy and Michael at their upper East Side Bar, and going out for "beer and teacher enlightenment", instead of home to his beautiful WASP wife and dinner. The marriage founders, but unlike his father, Frank's devotion to daughter Maggie never wavers. She remains his ultimate joy and inspiration.
All through his life, Frank never forgot the admonition of his Irish school master; "Your mind is a treasure house that you should stock well. It's the one part of you the world can't interfere with". In 'Tis, McCourt has provided a gem for all of us to store.
am 31. Oktober 1999
I've just finished "Tis" and found I have mixed feelings about the work and the author - feelings I didn't have concerning "Angela's Ashes". During my reading, I found myself rooting for Frank McCourt to not fall into the same trap as his father did, that trap the Irish call "the weakness". I rooted for him to go to school, get the girl, live the American dream happily ever after. But this wasn't the way Frank McCourt's life was to be.
So I obviosly made the mistake most reviewers of "Tis" made. This work is a MEMOIR, not a work of fiction nor fantasy. If I take Frank McCourt at his written word, he has been mostly unsuccessful in his life's dreams, and fallen far short of personal goals. The book seems to be more of a self examination held in public for ridicule and criticism - as any good Catholic boy must do. Who else would have to air their linen thus. And who else except a superb story teller could make a success of it in spite of those failings. It's a MEMOIR. It's a sad, joyful, shameful, depressing, and very funny MEMOIR. It doesn't need any psychoanalysis or critical reader analysis, or comparisons to similar authors past or present. It's a MEMOIR!
am 14. Oktober 1999
'Tis has been blasted unfairly by some critics. Some have lost sight to the fact that 'Tis is a memoir. I, like many of the critics, was dissappointed to find Frankie making many of the same mistakes in his life that his father did in Angela's Ashes, but 'Tis is not fiction. Frank McCourt's honesty deserves commendation. Many of us hoped that Frankie would triumph over his painful Irish childhood once he set foot in America. Everyone loves a hero. Frankie was a hero in Angela's Ashes and a human in 'Tis. This book is important to help us understand the reality of those who overcome poverty and abusive home lives. The reality is that few people completely escape the childhood hardships imprinted in their minds. 'Tis is a truthful depiction of the Irish-American story and should be considered one story along with Angela's Ashes.
am 14. Juni 2000
I read Angela's Ashes while on vacation in the Bahamas with my chidren (30, 22 and 20). I was moved, teary, laughing, stunned, you name it. I found myself constantly looking at the picture of the man on the back cover...amazed that he lived through this suffering as a child. I could not wait to get home and buy "Tis" to see what happened to my friend, Frankie McCourt. What an incredible man. I loved "Tis" and laid on the couch and read it cover to cover in two days. Nobody ate, I didn't clean, I didn't unpack and guess what? I didn't care. I have never been so moved or felt so attached to an author.
am 8. September 2001
The 'happy' (?) sequel to Angela's Ashes. In this part the author becomes a man and starts doing the typical American things. This is better as an examination of how America looks to an outsider than perhaps to an Irishman. Angela's Ashes appealed to me because it gave me an idea of what Ireland is like (was like) but this didn't leave me with the same feeling of understanding. But if you read the first book you really should read this one.