(Simon and Schuster, Eigth Edition, Paperback, 1996, read: April 00)
"My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born. Instead, they returned to Ireland when I was four, my brother, Malachy, three, the twins, Oliver and Eugene, barely one, and my sister, Margaret, dead and gone.
When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."
In his autobiography Frank McCourt describes his childhood in Limerick/Ireland from the age of 4 to 19. His father spends his money in the pubs when he has work at all, his mother can't do anything about it and his grandmother and all other relatives despise the family because his father comes from the North and they had to come back from America to be a burden to everyone. The family is terribly poor, always hungry and if one reads the book in a cosy living-room it's hard to imagine how one can survive this at all. But the book isn't as depressing as it sounds at first. It's written from the point of view of the child Frank who draws his own conclusions on the things going on around him. Especially when it's regarding the catholic religion and the absurdities coming from it in everyday life you want to laugh out loud. The unconcious humor coming from hopeless situations and the life in Ireland at the time of war, which may be unknown to most readers, make this book entertaining, funny and definitely worth reading. [Dorothée Büttgen, April 00]