Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Frank McCourt

From the first manuscript page of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, about his infernal Irish upbringing, I felt a shiver of discovery. As a starving kid, Frank had felt Shakespeare's words as jewels in his mouth, and he infused that poetic precision into all three of his memoirs, including 'Tis, about his escape to America, and Teacher Man, about the decades he spent in New York City's public high schools. Meeting Frank at a writer's conference, I relished the nightly tag-team hilaritas of him and wife Ellen regaling us with dirty limericks, which often ended with his wickedly maudlin tenor vocalization — wry and bitter, but with spot-on pathos — of "Danny Boy." A splendid companion — impossible not to miss him.

—Mary Karr

Karr's third memoir, Lit, was published in November