R.I.P Frank McCourt who passed away, aged 78 in a hospice. He had contracted meningitis, following skin cancer treatment.
McCourt's first book, the brilliant autobiography Angela's Ashes, detailed a miserable childhood growing up impoverished in Ireland and was published when the author was 67. It won him a Pulitzer Prize.
McCourt taught English for much of his life and Eric Konigsberg at The New York Times pays tribute to McCourt the storytelling teacher. (My review of his book Teacher Man is here. )
In The Baltimore Times Paul Golub, now the editorial director of Times Books at New York publisher Henry Holt & Co., recalls his experience of taking McCourt's creative writing course at Stuyvesant in 1979 :
The class was always hilarious and one exercise I remember was McCourt asking us to write about what we had for dinner last night ... He wasn't interested in the typical vague writing but understood that everything was details, details, details -- who bought the chicken, who cooked it, how it was cooked. He would make us read Mimi Sheraton's restaurant reviews in The New York Times so that we could conceive of the idea of writing descriptively about food. It was in Mr. McCourt's class that I first heard that mashed potatoes could be 'satiny.' Before I took Mr. McCourt's class, my writing was very labored. But after he was done with me my writing was fluid and less self-conscious. He liberated me to become myself.Will append more tributes as they appear in the papers.