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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

"Stop throwing sandwiches!"

This is my first McCourt book, as I am apparently the only person in the English-speaking world that has not read Angela's Ashes.

The book started like a house afire for me - full of the trepidation of the first day of school for a brand new teacher. What would he say? First impressions are vital - how much more vital is the first impression for an entire career? As is normal on a first day (I've had 17 years of them!), the first words from McCourt are not planned - they are a reaction to what the kids say and do - he has to yell, "Stop throwing sandwiches!"

Frank McCourt (1930-2009) photo by David Shankbone

McCourt's classroom rememberings are enjoyable - his style is not mine (at least not as of yet - styles evolve and change over time) but it was certainly original and caused the kids to think and he had their attention - more than half the battle is won if you have your attention. His rantings against administrators seem, for the most part, true (sad to say).

I found myself irritated at the middle of the book - seemingly great stretches that wander away from the classroom and deal with his failed attempt at a doctorate from an Irish university and a bad marriage. At the end, we are back in the classroom and the book sings along happily once again.

So, final grade. I give it 4 stars out of 5. Great start and finish.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt.

Reviewed on November 14, 2006.

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