Summary and book reviews of Tis by Frank McCourt

Tis

A Memoir

by Frank McCourt

Tis
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  • First Published:
    Sep 1999, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2000, 368 pages

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Book Summary

The story of Frank's American journey from impoverished immigrant to brilliant teacher and raconteur.

Frank McCourt's glorious childhood memoir, Angela's Ashes, has been loved and celebrated by readers everywhere for its spirit, its wit and its profound humanity. A tale of redemption, in which storytelling itself is the source of salvation, it won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Rarely has a book so swiftly found its place on the literary landscape.

And now we have 'Tis, the story of Frank's American journey from impoverished immigrant to brilliant teacher and raconteur. Frank lands in New York at age nineteen, in the company of a priest he meets on the boat. He gets a job at the Biltmore Hotel, where he immediately encounters the vivid hierarchies of this "classless country," and then is drafted into the army and is sent to Germany to train dogs and type reports. It is Frank's incomparable voice -- his uncanny humor and his astonishing ear for dialogue -- that renders these experiences spellbinding.

When Frank returns to America in 1953, he works on the docks, always resisting what everyone tells him, that men and women who have dreamed and toiled for years to get to America should "stick to their own kind" once they arrive. Somehow, Frank knows that he should be getting an education, and though he left school at fourteen, he talks his way into New York University. There, he falls in love with the quintessential Yankee, long-legged and blonde, and tries to live his dream. But it is not until he starts to teach -- and to write -- that Frank finds his place in the world. The same vulnerable but invincible spirit that captured the hearts of readers in Angela's Ashes comes of age.

As Malcolm Jones said in his Newsweek review of Angela's Ashes, "It is only the best storyteller who can so beguile his readers that he leaves them wanting more when he is done...and McCourt proves himself one of the very best." Frank McCourt's 'Tis is one of the most eagerly awaited books of our time, and it is a masterpiece.

Chapter One

When the MS Irish Oak sailed from Cork in October 1949, we expected to be in New York City in a week. Instead, after two days at sea, we were told we were going to Montreal in Canada. I told the first officer all I had was forty dollars and would Irish Shipping pay my train fare from Montreal to New York. He said, No, the company wasn't responsible. He said freighters are the whores of the high seas, they'll do anything for anyone. You could say a freighter is like Murphy's oul' dog, he'll go part of the road with any wanderer.

Two days later Irish Shipping changed its mind and gave us the happy news, Sail for New York City, but two days after that the captain was told, Sail for Albany.

The first officer told me Albany was a city far up the Hudson River, capital of New York State. He said Albany had all the charm of Limerick, ha ha ha, a great place to die but not a place where you'd want to get married or rear children. He was from Dublin and knew I was ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Newsweek

Now McCourt drops the other shoe...[an] inimitable account of his life in America...

Library Journal

.... Those whose hearts went out to the little boy who suffered so in Limerick might be put off by the hard-drinking, carousing grownup. But there's no denying McCourt's engaging wit. Is it as rewarding as Angela's Ashes? 'Tis.

Reader Reviews

Mia Torres

My inspiration
This book is amazing. Frank, tells the tale so incredibly well. I felt like I was in the story with him. He's a great inspiration to me, as well as many other people. He will be greatly missed :)

katrina mccleary

I have read this book and Frank McCourts other book approx 10 times each. His books are so heart wrenching that you feel so bad that you as the reader is not there to help Frank and his mother through their poverty. I felt as though I was there in ...   Read More

Susan

hearing of all the sufferings of frank and his mother and brothers touches the heart. the way he expresses his feelings made me feel for him and wish i was there to comfort him as this is a heart wrenching story which all should read

skp

Franks' struggles and abitions are an inspiration. To come from poverty to emotional riches. This is a must read!!

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