By People Staff
October 04, 1999 12:00 PM

by Frank McCourt

Book of the week

Luckily for Frank McCourt, life got better after he left the blighted lanes of Limerick at age 19 and headed for New York City. Luckily for fans of Angela’s Ashes, his 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, McCourt’s genius for observation survived the trip. Resuming where his No. 1 bestselling remembrance of an Irish boyhood concludes, ‘Tis follows McCourt from his first American job—emptying ashtrays at the Biltmore Hotel—through his years on Manhattan’s loading docks, his stint in the Army, his days at New York University and his entry into the profession he practiced for 30 years: teaching high school English. Moving from near-starvation in childhood to grown-up literary renown is an astonishing trajectory; McCourt recalls it with wry humility. When his first students, at a vocational high school, declare the book Giants in the Earth irrelevant (“all these Europe people all gloomy on the prairie”), McCourt digs up autobiographical papers by students from years past to engage his class. “Without the crumbling compositions,” he writes, “I might have had to teach.” As he has proved once again, telling your own story well can do just that. (Scribner, $26)

Bottom Line: ‘Tis as fine as its predecessor