Book review: ‘Tis by Frank McCourt

February 24, 2008

Title: ‘Tis
Author: Frank McCourt
Pages: 495

‘Tis is the sequel to Angela’s Ashes. It picks up where the previous book left off, Frank has just landed in America with no high-school education, barely any money, bad eyes and most importantly, an American passport.

McCourt starts work as a houseman (sweeping, dusting, etc) in a hotel lobby before joining the army. After working at desk-bound jobs throughout his short army career he spent some time as a labourer on the shipping docks of New York. After being goaded into putting his brains to use he applied to New York University. Despite not having completed high-school he wa accepted and managed to earn a degree while working full-time at various odd jobs.

He then begins teaching at a vocational high school full of disinterested, lazy and hormonal kids who hate studying english. McCourt then moves to Stuyvesant High School, one of America’s foremost schools. The latter part of the book covers his teaching experiences, the collapse of his marriage and the death of his parents – depressing stuff indeed.

Some of the phrases in this book like ‘Paddy off the boat’ and ‘Eyes like piss-holes in the snow’ made me smile every time I read them. It’s wonderful that McCourt is so honest [1] that he freely reveals the bias he felt against Protestants (‘Like a protestant with no sense of sin’).

This is how autobiographies should be written, with absolute honesty, even if you end up looking like an ass.


[1] Well, honest enough to reveal uncomfortable details. I have a strong suspicion that he made up some things, especially in the getting laid department.

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One Response to “Book review: ‘Tis by Frank McCourt”


  1. […] ‘Tis by Frank McCourt […]

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