On pondering Frank McCourt, who passed away on July 19, I discovered that I had memories of this author despite never having read anything he wrote. I saw him once on Charlie Rose and liked the show. I saw a documentary on him and heard his voice talking about the experiences that congealed into Angela’s Ashes. Back in around 2001 or 2002, a student of mine was reading his book in my computer class. Saturday Night Live even had a sketch poking fun at the grinding poverty he depicted in his novel.
Has he written other things? Because AA is the only one I ever hear about. But given the saucer of water that personifies the mentality of modern media, I’m not surprised. Frank McCourt has been nowt but a couple of sound bites: Angelas’s Ashes and Pulitzer Prize.
This isn’t sounding like much of a tribute. And there’s a picture of a book cover with a smoking rubber chicken on it.
The tribute has to do with a satire of McCourt written by one Derrick Martin in the book The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes. McCourt taught in public high schools for many years before becoming a famous author. This bit was the first thing I thought of when I heard McCourt had died. The bit is funny for lots of reasons, depending on what your experience of Irish people is. On the surface, it’s funny because it’s so single-minded. Every teacher has a favorite topic. Apparently, teachers have political leanings as well. I like it because it’s a brilliant piss-take on McCourt. I don’t know if he had a sense of humor. I don’t know if he would have appreciated what Martin accomplished, but as a teacher, I like it. As a reader and writer, I like it. It’s just funny.
FRANK MCCOURT’S AMERICAN HISTORY SYLLABUS
by Derrick Martin
Week 1: The Irish
Week 2: Coming to America
Week 3: Marginalizing the Irish people
Week 4: Kicking the bog mud off your boots
Week 5: Ireland
Week 6: My father the Irishman
Week 7: The Italians!? Oh, please!
Week 8: Looking back (on Ireland)
McCourt, you were not famous for a long time, but you made an impression. Well done.