Reader reviews for Tis: A Memoir

The sequel to Angela’s ashes. McCourt picks up where Angela’s ashes left off-Frank has arrived in New York at age 18, and begins his life in America once again. The story traces his difficulties as a poor immigrant, his relationships with many people, and his eventual career as a high school teacher in NYC. It may be that sequels are always a bit disappointing, and McCourt’s well-written story with its unhappy and somewhat fatalistic ending was to be expected.
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after having listened to Angela's Ashes-- the sequel seemed required; I enjoyed the parts where he was working at getting his education ( although not having a hs diploma) and especially his first weeks in the classroom; having recently begun substitute teaching... it is apparent that some things "never" change.
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Funny how people who liked [Angela's Ashes] hated ['Tis] and vice versa. I loved Tis, it had me in stiches again and again!
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not as good as Angela's ashes... but still a great read..
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Another great read. I love the simple style of writing, it flows like poetry.
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This book was good, but I felt it was much slower than Angela's Ashes.
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A great story, and a good follow-up to "Angela's Ashes."
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What a joy reading McCourt. I am sorry that he has passed away. His books exuded such wit and charm. As a teacher and philosopher, McCourt always found a way to solve problems and save the day.
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Here’s the first thing you need to know about Frank McCourt’s second book: ’tisn’t as good as the first. But of course the twinkle-eyed Irish gent set an impossible-to-beat standard for himself with Angela’s Ashes. His memoir of poverty and survival in Limerick’s slums was overwhelmingly sad, funny and—most of all—honest.And now, with ’Tis, McCourt’s tale continues from where he left off in Angela’s Ashes—on board a freighter as it sails from Ireland to New York. The next-to-last chapter of Angela ended with the question "Isn’t this a great country altogether?" The last chapter consisted of a single word: "’Tis."With the against-all-odds success of his first book, published when he was sixty-five, is it any wonder that McCourt would want to continue the momentum of his charming storytelling? ’Tis no wonder ’tall. While it may seem unfair to compare the two books, it is fair to say that this sophomore effort doesn’t pack much of a punch as a stand-alone memoir. The weakness of ’Tis is easy to pinpoint: there’s just not enough of a story between the covers. There are times when McCourt seems to be stretching his life to fit the number of pages, instead of shrinking the number of pages to fit his life.Once McCourt arrives in New York City in 1949, his tale becomes a connect-the-dots odyssey of a young immigrant making his way in America during the post-war years. ’Tis is hampered by the truth-is-sadder-than-fiction events in Angela. Nothing could possibly be as bad as McCourt’s miserable childhood and, here in ’Tis, the events of his later life pale by comparison. Nonetheless, it’s a bit of a relief to see how well McCourt triumphs over his squalid beginnings. Don't get me wrong; he still scrapes and struggles even after he arrives in America, the Promised Land. We watch him scrounging for low-paying jobs like emptying ashtrays at the Biltmore Hotel or unloading freight at the dockyards. He joins the Army, but instead of going to fight in Korea, is shipped off to Germany where he learns how to type and discovers great writers like Melville and Dostoevsky. He returns to America, cons his way into New York University and eventually gets a job teaching high school. Along the way, he wrestles with the demons of his father’s waywardness and the Irish penchant for drink.He’s anxious, unsettled, looking for his place in the world. As he tries to assimilate into American culture, he outruns his heritage like it was a dog nipping at his heels:"Why is it the minute I open my mouth the whole world is telling me they’re Irish and we should all be having a drink? It’s not enough to be American. You always have to be something else, Irish-American, German-American, and you’d wonder how they’d get along if someone hadn’t invented the hyphen."And later, when he’s sitting quietly in his college class, he confesses:"There are times when I wish I could reach into my mouth and tear my accent out by the roots. Even when I try to sound American people look puzzled and say, Do I detect an Irish brogue?"What I admire most about ’Tis is the same thing that made me fall in love with Angela: McCourt’s distinct, easy-flowing style. He tells his life story in an ironic and self-deprecating tone of voice, sprinkling it with just enough salty humor to make you mark the place on the page with a finger while you stop to have a good chuckle.By now, however, McCourt has run out of life to relate; after ’Tis, I doubt there’s much left to tell. For his next book, I wouldn’t mind seeing a novel. He’s got a good ear for dialogue and a keen eye for describing characters and wouldn’t it be a lovely thing altogether if he was to fashion a funny little novel out of his imagination?’Twould.
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This is my second book by Mr McCourt and his writing make brings the reader so close to him that it is almost like I've becoming a cousin through his work. His insights into the bigger themes of teachers, the education system, and the invisibility of immigrant workers to the affluent are relevant themes and they balance nicely with the highly personal nature of the rest of his story. While 'Tis isn't as good as Angela's Ashes, it is still much better than most and definitely worth reading.
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