The strength of Angela’s Ashes lies in the way McCourt sustains a child's perspective throughout, refraining from the benefit of adult hindsight and refusing to apportion blame. This softens the blows of his descriptions of the death, desperation and poverty around him; it also allows

the reader to understand what a complex network of emotions young Frank felt towards his parents and upbringing.

‘My childhood gave us aspirations and dreams,’ says McCourt now. 'But it lowered our expectations too, and lowered our self- esteem. When you’re used to nothing, you're

satisfied with very little. We didn’t dream beyond a bowl of soup.’

It was only after setting one of his classes a writing project that McCourt, for 45 years an English teacher in New York City, summed up the courage to convert his notes into an actual book. And it's not just a heap of


awards and a bulging bank balance that has altered his circumstances. ‘Supermodels with legs up to their shoulders kept coming up to me and praising me,’ he chuckles. ’I said to my wife, "If this had happened 30 years ago, I’d be dead of whisky and

fornication .

/ 2’, 223’. THELIST15