Angela's Ashes Author Hospitalized for Cancer

Cynthia Dermody
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Frank McCourt battling cancerFrank McCourt, one of my favorite authors, most notable for his Pulitzer prize-winning memoir, Angela's Ashes, is fighting a life-or-death battle with cancer, an Irish news agency reported this week.

I saw McCourt speak shortly after the book hit the bestseller's list. The Irish-born author tells his own life story about living and surviving in the rat and illness infested slums of Limerick.

He was so humble and funny even in person -- he even autographed my copy of the book afterward.

I'm still in awe of this man who overcame a day-by-day existence begging for food, battling typhoid, and leaving school to take care of his mother and siblings after his alcoholic father abandoned them.

McCourt's second book, 'Tis, which continued with his arrival in America at age 19, was an instant best-seller along with his 2005 memoir, Teacher Man, which looked back at his 27 years in the New York City public school system.

The web story didn't indicate what type of cancer the 79-year-old author has, only that he is being treated in a New York hospital.

Having many family members and friends who are Irish, I remember the uproar that Angela's Ashes caused in my own little circle when it first came out. Many loved it (me included), but many hated the book, if they even undignified themselves to read it at all. They felt McCourt was making the Irish look bad, by either over-exaggerating or talking about atrocities that should remain unspoken.

I thought McCourt wrote from honesty and totally devoid of judgement, and the admiration for and devotion to his mother is without words.

Did you read Angela's Ashes? (If you didn't, you should, especially if you're Irish!) What was your reaction to the book? Did you like his subsequent memoirs just as much?

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