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Big Books Reviews

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

Big Books Issue 2001

Next of Kin Rick Bragg Gives His Family Tree Another Shake in Ava's Man | By Frank Diller

Speak, Memory Bashed By Oprah and Other Tales From the Memoir Trade | By Wendy Ward

The Little Girls Understand . . . Perhaps little girls are behind the popularity of memoirs. Long before the American Girls books, bef...

First Persons A Sampling of the Best Modern Memoirs

I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie Better than the recent ego-stoked memoirs of the musicians she aspired to, uhh, know, "Miss Pamela"'... | By Stacey Mink

Goodbye to All That First published in 1929, this memoir by the poet and novelist (I, Claudius) remains the most immedia... | By Mahinder Kingra

Autobiography of a Face Poet Lucy Grealy survived cancer and wrote a book about it, like other fortunate hundreds before and... | By Lee Gardner

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica Though dirt poor and living in total obscurity when she died in 1960, Zora Neale Hurston had spent d... | By Afefe Tyehimba

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Kay Redfield Jamison undertook to write about her personal experiences with manic depression after s... | By Eileen Murphy

Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity Primo Levi's memoir of his 10 months in Auschwitz is a masterpiece of Holocaust literature--not simp... | By Sandy Asirvatham

Harpo Speaks! Whether Harpo Marx's 1961 autobiography qualifies as a memoir is open to question, given that there'... | By Adele Marley

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt was born in Brooklyn in 1930, but his parents reversed the usual Irish-American immigr... | By Heather Joslyn

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness At the start of this Memoir of Madness, novelist William Styron is about to receive the prestigious ... | By Eileen Murphy

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story Born of Indian parents and raised in Ethiopia, Abraham Verghese could hardly find a place less his o... | By Eileen Murphy

By Heather Joslyn | Posted 9/26/2001

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt was born in Brooklyn in 1930, but his parents reversed the usual Irish-American immigrant tale and returned to their native Limerick, naively hoping to find a better life there during the Great Depression. There, Malachy and Angela McCourt's large brood encountered its own personal great depression, wracked by disease, infant mortality, alcoholism, and a hopeless poverty the author conveys so keenly you can smell it. As the family endures one heartbreak after another, McCourt works literary magic, always writing of events from the perspective he had at the age he experienced them. Since this 1996 memoir was published, McCourt's subsequent writing may have become tinged with sentimentality and self-pity, but with its unsparing detail and rising anger, Ashes is truly one for the ages.

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