walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Teacher Man_, Frank McCourt (kindle)

Subtitled: A Memoir

I didn't read _Angela's Ashes_ or _Tis_, nor have I seen (any of) the movie(s). The descriptions have always left me flat.

However, I really enjoyed this month's selection from book group at the library in the small town I used to live in.

McCourt's writing is episodic, humorous, self-deprecating, picaresque. He covers a wide span of time, but not at an even pace. Threaded through the more-or-less standalone tales of teaching, drinking, womanizing, parenting, etc. is the story of a really unhappy, sad, lonely guy who doesn't really fit in anywhere and doesn't really connect to anyone, or at least not over any stretch of time. Sometimes, the person he connects to, like Eddie his boss at the docks, dies. Sometimes, as would appear to be the case with his wife, the connection takes a little too much damage over time.

McCourt tried a variety of things in an effort to improve himself: he visited a psychoanalyst and went to group briefly, he got a master's and attempted a doctorate. He switched schools. He got married, had a kid, got divorced. It was at Stuyvesant High School, however, where he finally found a place where he could be himself and, while he was still terrified of the possible consequences, the actual consequences were generally positive or at least benign.

The last third of the book in particular has some interesting teaching strategies and ideas. It's a quick and largely enjoyable read that isn't likely to do anyone any harm and might do some good. Some day, you should probably read it.
Tags: book review, non-fiction

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