20 Jul

I have a confession.


I never read Angela’s Ashes. I feel like a bit of a fraud writing a book blog, especially one in which I claim to be a fan of memoir. I always wanted to read it, my mom read it and raved about it for months after it was released, pressing it into the hands of anyone she knew. But I just never did.

Perhaps it’s understandable. When the hardcover was first published, it was 1996 and I was 13. It wasn’t exactly required reading. A copy of the genre-shifting book sits on my parents’ bookshelf and I’ve always said, I’d pick it up someday.

Frank McCourt, the teacher-turned-author of Angela’s Ashes, passed away last night of acute meningitis contracted during a long, ongoing fight with skin cancer. I understand the significance of his death; as a fan of the memoir genre, I recognize his role in transforming the genre into the vibrant thing it is now. But my desire now to read his book now is acute, and I wonder if it’s a little bit false, his death creating a sense of urgency that I never felt before. It’s as if his book will cease to be now that he’s gone as well, which is ridiculous,  I know, since one of the most concrete ways that he lives on is through his bestselling story. It echos to me the upsurge in sales for Michael Jackson albums after his death by those who re-discovered or discovered for the first time his music (though obviously not on the same scale), and I wonder if I’m not the only one who will want to read or re-read McCourt’s Pullizter Prize winner.

Does anyone else feel that pull, when an author dies, to read their best-loved works? I felt something similar when John Updike died. I went to Barnes & Noble looking for any of his Rabbit books; they were all sold out, with more on back-order. I have a feeling something similar will happen with McCourt even though his death is being overshadowed by that of Walter Cronkite (who I also mourn for as a member of the news business however on the fringe and slight the connection).

It seems I won’t be the only one remembering this man, as news of McCourt’s death spread through the book blogging world via Twitter which is how I first heard the news.

Who have you discovered or rediscovered after their death, author or otherwise?


One Response to “McCourt-ing”

  1. Sheila DeChantal July 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    You know, I think we do… at least I do. Actually last week hearing that Frank was sick, I pulled a book off the shelf that I have had but have never read. Guess what? It was Angela’s Ashes. I opened it and started reading. I have four other books going and I pick up a fifth… whats that about?

    Yet I think I just wanted to feel close to someone who I had never met, but knew of him and of his great works.

    I havent finished the book, but I will. Time commitments to other books pulled me back but what I read so far I liked.

    Look at some of the best sellers on Barnes and Noble now… they are all about Michael Jackson. People for some reason are drawn to know more. Almost like they dont know what to do but this will help them feel closer to the author or actor.

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