Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt Dead At 78

After bringing you the news just a few days ago that Pulitzer Prize-winner Frank McCourt was gravely ill, I'm sad to now tell you of news of his death.

McCourt had been gravely ill with meningitis and recently was treated for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. He died at a Manhattan hospice, his brother Malachy McCourt said. He was 78.

Until his mid-60s, Frank McCourt was known primarily around New York as a creative writing teacher and as a local character – the kind who might turn up in a New York novel – singing songs and telling stories with his younger brother and otherwise joining the crowds at the White Horse Tavern and other literary hangouts.

But there was always a book or two being formed in his mind and the world would learn his name, and story, in 1996, after a friend helped him get an agent and his then-unfinished manuscript was quickly signed by Scribner. With a first printing of just 25,000, "Angela's Ashes" was an instant favourite with critics and readers and perhaps the ultimate case of the non-celebrity memoir, the extraordinary life of an ordinary man.

The book was a long Irish wake, "an epic of woe," McCourt called it, finding laughter and lyricism in life's very worst. Although some in Ireland complained that McCourt had revealed too much (and revealed a little too well), "Angela's Ashes" became a million seller, won the Pulitzer and was made into a movie of the same name, starring Emily Watson as the title character, McCourt's mother.

After "Angela's Ashes," McCourt continued his story, to strong but diminished sales and reviews, in "'Tis," which told of his return to New York in the 1940s, and in "Teacher Man." McCourt also wrote a children's story, "Angela and the Baby Jesus," released in 2007.

McCourt was married twice and had a daughter, Maggie McCourt, from his first marriage.


- http://www.huffingtonpost.com

1 comment:

Café Chick said...

What a colourful life he lived, and we readers are fortunate enough that he shared some of it with us. RIP Frank McCourt.