Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with "Angela's Ashes, " the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came "'Tis, " his glorious account of his early years in New York. Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book ...
Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with "Angela's Ashes, " the Pulitzer Prize -- winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came "'Tis, " his glorious account of his early years in New York. Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. "Teacher Man" is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!). McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story to paper. "Teacher Man" shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents. McCourt's rocky marriage, his failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he finally finds a place and a voice. "Doggedness," he says, is "not as glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one thing that got me through the days and nights." For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in "Teacher Man" the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an exhilarating adventure.
Perfectly sincere and sometimes cynical. These are two elements i consider to be some of the best qualities such a book should have. The sincerity makes the story comical, sad and uplifiting; the cynicism reminds you that you're reading about actual events by an author who isn't breaking his back to be pessimistic, it simply comes naturally to him.
Aug 29, 2007
This is a wonderful book. It is warm, funny, sometimes in your face, and so beautifully honest. It is a glowing tribute to teachers everywhere and puts focus on a fifficult job that often goes unappreciated. Read it. You won't be sorry.
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