Two kinds of literature always make an impact on you – the kinds that make you cry, and the kinds that make you laugh. Very rarely does a book make you both laugh and cry intermittently. Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes had exactly that effect on me. On every other page I would be moved to tears and as I progressed through the book, I began to get accustomed to the dire poverty and dearth faced by the characters of the book and began to laugh with them.
I am a fan of everything Irish – from W.B. Yeats to The Corrs, from Samuel Beckett to Riverdance. Give me anything Irish, I’ll take it as it is. That could be one of the reasons I enjoyed this book, set in Limerick, Ireland, so much. But I am sure it’s just a small reason. The bigger reason is the fact that I somehow identify with the poverty that the writer went through as a child. No, I was nowhere close – but I’ve seen it from close. And even if you have not, McCourt will show it to you.
His writing is poignant, clear and full of life. In spite of the fact that he wrote this book much later, his four year old self and eighteen year old self grow inside the book, and change the way they tell you his story. You are inside their house on Roden Lane, playing with the children in the park in Brooklyn, dropping telegrams with Frankie in the streets of Limerick. You’re there. It’s around you. That’s the beauty of a well written book.
I look forward to reading the sequel ‘Tis.