Monday, 24 September 2007

What I'm reading right now...


My sister brought Angela's Ashes home some time last year but I did not read it for one very good reason: I wasn't in the mood to read about anyone's miserable childhood in Ireland. At the time I did not know several important things, such as that the author had written the book in his sixties after teaching high school in New York for 30 years, nor that he had won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award for the book, his first. I also haven't read 'Tis, Frank McCourt's account of his early years in the USA. Now that I'm reading Teacher Man, however, I can't wait to get my hands on everything he has written, to fill in the rest of this remarkable man's life - or rather, to enjoy his masterful recounting of it.

I know that Teacher Man will remain my favourite, though. Having taught high school English for twenty-two years, there isn't a single character, situation or emotion with which I cannot identify. This book should be essential reading for every teacher - maybe for everyone. I think it's the most honest and penetrating, unsentimental and profound analysis of the teaching life that I've ever read.

8 comments:

KeVin K. said...

Taylor Mali, one of my favorite e-teachers, on "What do teachers make?"

Now you've added another book to my "must be read" pile.

aka_lol said...

I found this book on my shelves about a year ago and I have no idea how it got there, but I did't steal it.

Some of my favorite books are memoirs and the fact I didn't read it means I didn't pay too much mind to the sheets between the covers.

I think you should add your review on Amazon because it is a compelling review and even I now want to stop reading
Lisey's Story
midway and start Teacher Man, or is it Teacher's Man. I am just rrying to be funny but the latter would appeal to a completely different audience, I imagine :)

Matt said...

I was somewhat surprised by the success of Angela's Ashes. It's good, but left me underwhelmed. I did appreciate the atypical ending - it's the type most American audiences won't stand for... which left me even more baffled by its success. Only McCourt I've read to date... maybe I should try Teacher Man.

wordtryst said...

Kevin, my dial-up Internet connection is slow, so I had to wait awhile for the clip to download, but it was so worth it! Fantastic! I wish I had thought of his final answer to What do you make? back when my cousins would tell me, condescendingly, that they love teaching but couldn't live on a teacher's salary. Ha!

Also, if you read nothing else, read the prologue to Teacher Man on NPR.

wordtryst said...

aka_lol, I also like memoirs. The one that comes to mind is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

I never thought of posting reviews on Amazon. You've given me something to think about. And Teacher's Man sent my mind spinning in prurient directions. You might be surprised at who might be in the audience for that... :)

wordtryst said...

Matt, I had no interest in reading Ashes when my sister brought it home. It just sounded so very dreary. My sister liked it, but it's good to get your perspective on the book.

I think I have a personal bias against too much suffering in literature. Emotional suffering I can handle. Actual physical hardship, grinding poverty and deprivation - not so much.

But Teacher Man was a damned good read, maybe because I could relate so closely to the subject matter.

Lane said...

I loved Angela's Ashes because like Ms Angelou's Caged Birds, the hardship was handled with such skill and humour. I also loved Teacher Man, although Tis fell a bit flat for me, erring a little on the self-indulgent side.

wordtryst said...

Lane, it always comes back to the writing, doesn't it? Makes all the difference.