Books: Frank's Ashes

The sequel to a beloved best seller is glum going

'Tis a great pity that Frank McCourt couldn't leave swell enough alone and retire as a memoirist after his stupendous success with Angela's Ashes. Unfortunately, the promise of a sequel is given pretty firmly in the pages of his Pulitzer-prizewinning best seller, and McCourt proves to be as good as his word. The dream of coming to America, particularly to New York City, that sustained him through his family's poverty in Limerick has come to pass by the opening pages of 'Tis (Scribner; 367 pages; $26). In the fall of 1959, at age 19, McCourt enjoys his first shower in a...

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