Finished Reading Angela's Ashes

Finished Reading Angela’s AshesJerz’s Literacy Weblog)

I finally finished reading Angela’s Ashes. I can’t really say that I enjoyed it, although I appreciated the skill in the storytelling. I’ve noted before, I find myself resisting the melodramatic tugs at my heartstrings, and since the book is presented as a memoir, of course I feel terrible for not being moved as I should.

The author’s unromanticized view of Ireland is better than shamrocks and leprechauns, but the endless tales of drunkard men and nagging women are just as monotonous. I find it interesting that, with all the drinking the narrator reports, he doesn’t even seem tempted to drink before he turns 16. If there’s one thing his drunken lout of a father would want to be a part of, you’d think it would be the ritual of buying a 16-year-old his first drink. You’d think that a boy as perceptive as the narrator would be able to see what alcoholism has done to his family and, indeed, his whole class. Of course, the story is told so that we would indeed be horrified by what Frankie is turning into (that is, his father), so that we would share the protagonist’s desire to escape the life that seems destined for him.

At the end of the novel, it’s not clear whether life in America will be much different for the narrator, and I didn’t share in the narrator’s 19-year-old exultation of sheer and utter joy that he is now free — I’ve seen plenty of 19-year-olds who have no idea what to do with their freedom. (See Karissa reflecting on a former high school classmate who overdosed on heroin.)

I know the story picks up in ‘Tis, and I’m interested enough to see what happens that maybe one day I’ll get it from the library, but not any time soon.