Nearly a decade ago Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with
Angela's Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came 'Tis, his glorious account of his early years in New York.
Now, here at last, is McCourt's long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer.
Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faces in public high schools around New York City. His methods anything but conventional, McCourt creates a lasting impact on his students through imaginative assignments (he instructs one class to write "An Excuse Note from Adam or Eve to God"), singalongs (featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics), and field trips (imagine taking twenty-nine rowdy girls to a movie in Times Square!).
McCourt struggles to find his way in the classroom and spends his evenings drinking with writers and dreaming of one day putting his own story to paper.
Teacher Man shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he works to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents. McCourt's rocky marriage, his failed attempt to get a Ph.D. at Trinity College, Dublin, and his repeated firings due to his propensity to talk back to his superiors ironically lead him to New York's most prestigious school, Stuyvesant High School, where he finally finds a place and a voice. "Doggedness," he says, is "not as glamorous as ambition or talent or intellect or charm, but still the one thing that got me through the days and nights."
For McCourt, storytelling itself is the source of salvation, and in Teacher Man the journey to redemption -- and literary fame -- is an exhilarating adventure.
Why is Frank McCourt a publishing sensation when the memoirs of thousands of others lie forlorn and forgotten at the bottom of a drawer under a pile of rejection letters? A large part of it is due to the simple and undeniable quality of his writing, but another part is down to that mysterious process known as luck ... As McCourt himself says, 'When I taught in New York City high schools for thirty years no one but my students paid me a scrap of attention. In the world outside the school I was invisible. Then I wrote a book about my childhood and became mick of the moment.... (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
McCourt throws down the gauntlet on education, asserting that teaching is more than achieving high test scores. It's about educating, about forming intellects, about getting people to think....should be mandatory reading for every teacher in America. And it wouldn't hurt some politicians to read it, too.
Booklist - Brad Hooper
[A]nother easily embraceable memoir by the best-selling author of Angela's Ashes (1996) and
'Tis (1999)...a tough but poignant and certainly eloquent defense of the sacrifices and honorableness of those in the teaching profession
...and a lesson itself in taking yourself seriously--but not too.
Moving out of the poor Irish lanes of his childhood and now into the high school classrooms of New York City, Frank McCourt exchanges one garden of suffering for another, but always with a comic eye, a sympathetic heart, and the perfect timing of a master story-teller.
Teacher Man is a cry from the barricades of public education and should be required reading not just for all teachers but for anyone who ever set foot in a high school. Happily, there will be no
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by johnnyo Another Fun Read!! Another very good book from Mr. McCourt, I was really touched with the last few chapters of the book.
Rated of 5
by Delfi The art of teaching I would have traveled to the States only and exclusively to talk to him personally. I'm studying to become a teacher.His voice would have sounded like angels singing from heaven to me! I will miss him!
Rated of 5
by Jackson Rine Great book This book was amazing. I literally got through it in a week because it was page turning.
Rated of 5
by Kathryn A Different McCort! Don't be put off reading McCort's Teacher Man because you didn't care for his other books. Although his melancholy nature comes through in the telling of his own teaching career, this book is an uplifting tale about what life in his classroom was... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kirconnell A Teacher's Life This is a wonderful book. It is warm, funny, sometimes in your face, and so beautiful honest. It is a glowing tribute to teachers everywhere and puts focus on a difficult job that often goes unappreciated. Read it. You won't be sorry.
taught in the New York City
public schools for twenty-seven
years, the last seventeen of
which were spent at Stuyvesant
High School in Manhattan. After
retiring from teaching, Frank
and his brother, Malachy,
performed their two-man show,
A Couple of Blaguards, a
musical review about their Irish
Youth. In September 1996,
Scribner published Frank's
childhood memoir, Angela's
Ashes, which spent 117 weeks
on the New York Times bestseller
list. After more than sixty-five
printings, there are over
2.3 million copies in print in
North America alone.
McCourt has won
the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for
Biography, the National Book
Critics Circle (NBCC) Award in
The story of a violent, war-haunted, alcoholic father and a strong-willed, loving mother who struggled to protect her three sons from the effects of poverty and ignorance that had tainted her own life.
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