For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Four Quartets is a rich composition that expands the spiritual vision introduced in “The Waste Land.” Here, in four linked poems (“Burnt Norton,” “East Coker,” “The Dry Salvages,” and “Little Gidding”), spiritual, philosophical, and personal themes emerge through symbolic allusions and literary and religious references from both Eastern and Western thought. It is the culminating achievement by a man considered the greatest poet of the twentieth century and one of the seminal figures in the evolution of modernism.
Poet, dramatist, critic, and editor, T. S. Eliot was one of the defining figures of twentieth-century poetry. This edition of Collected Poems 1909-1962 includes The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock along with Four Quartets, The Waste Land, and several other poems.
The title poem, The Waste Land (1922), ranks among the most influential poetic works of the century. An exploration of the psychic stages of a despairing soul caught in a struggle for redemption, the poem contrasts the spiritual stagnation of the modern world with the ennobling myths of the past. Other selections include the complete contents of Prufrock (1971), including "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," "Portrait of a Lady," "Rhapsody on a Windy Night," "Mr. Apollinax," and "Morning at the Window." From Poems (1920) there are "Gerontion," "The Hippopotamus," "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service," "Sweeney Among the Nightingales," and more.
An indispensable resource for all poetry lovers, this modestly priced edition is also an ideal text for English literature courses from high school to college. Includes "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" from the Common Core.
As Muldoon writes, "It's almost impossible to think of a world in which The Waste Land did not exist. So profound has its influence been not only on twentieth-century poetry but on how we’ve come to view the century as a whole, the poem itself risks being taken for granted." Famously elliptical, wildly allusive, at once transcendent and bleak, The Waste Land defined modernity after the First World War, forever transforming our understanding of ourselves, the broken world we live in, and the literature that was meant to make sense of it. In a voice that is arch, ironic, almost ebullient, and yet world-weary and tragic, T. S. Eliot mixes and remixes, drawing on a cast of ghosts to create a new literature for a new world. In the words of Edmund Wilson, "Eliot…is one of our only authentic poets…[The Waste Land is] one triumph after another."
The Archbishop Thomas Becket speaks fatal words before he is martyred in T. S. Eliot's best-known drama, based on the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1170. Praised for its poetically masterful handling of issues of faith, politics, and the common good, T. S. Eliot's play bolstered his reputation as the most significant poet of his time.
Surveying the contemporary scene, Mr. Eliot points out that our standards of culture are lower than they were fifty years ago, finds evidence of this decay in every department of human activity, and sees no reason why the decay of culture should not proceed much further. He suggests that culture and religion have a common root and that if one decays the other may die too. He reminds us that “the Russians have been the first modern people to practise the political direction of culture consciously, and to attack at every point the culture of any people whom they wish to dominate.” The appendix includes his broadcasts to Europe, ending with a plea to preserve the legacy of Greece, Rome, and Israel, and Europe’s legacy throughout the last 2,000 years.
“Behind the urbanity, the modesty, the mere good manners of Mr. Eliot’s exposition, one cannot mistake the force and significance of what he has to say, or ignore that it constitutes a fundamental attack on most of our assumptions on the subject.”
—THE LONDON SPECTATOR
"A monumental achievement, and one that frames important and timely questions about the state of Eliot’s reputation." —Guardian
T. S. Eliot’s Collected Poems 1909–1962, first published in the 1960s and reset in 2002, is Eliot's own lifelong curation of his poems. Over the years, certain printing discrepancies and modifications by publishers have crept in, not always in the text’s best interests. These have now been resolved conclusively following the meticulous research on Eliot’s poems by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue in The Poems of T. S. Eliot (2015), which created stable texts that are here presented in this new setting as a revised edition of Eliot’s classic volume.
This new edition will delight and inform all those who read Eliot for pleasure and for study. Here are the definitive marvels and landmarks, from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and The Waste Land through to Four Quartets.
* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Eliot's life and works
* Concise introductions to the poetry books
* Images of how the poetry books were first printed, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Excellent formatting of the poems
* Special chronological and alphabetical contents tables for the poetry
* Features rare poems
* Easily locate the poems you want to read
* Includes Eliot's early essay collection THE SACRED WOOD
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
Please note: the collection presents the most complete collection of Eliot’s poetry possible, complying with US copyright laws. Once new texts enter the public domain, they will be added to the eBook as a free update.
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The Poetry Collections
PRUFROCK AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS
THE WASTE LAND
THE HOLLOW MEN
VERSES FROM PERIODICALS
LIST OF POEMS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
LIST OF POEMS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
THE SACRED WOOD
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Mr. Eliot has written the words; the scenario and design of the play were provided by a collaborator, and the purpose was to provide a pageant of the Church of England for presentation on a particular occasion. The action turns upon the efforts and difficulties of a group of London masons in building a church. Incidentally a number of historical scenes, illustrative of church-building, are introduced. The play, enthusiastically greeted, was first presented in England, at Sadler's Wells; the production included much pageantry, mimetic action, and ballet, with music by Dr. Martin Shaw.
Immediately after the production of this play in England, Francis Birrell wrote in The New Statesman: "The magnificent verse, the crashing Hebraic choruses which Mr. Eliot has written had best be studied in the book. 'The Rock' is certainly one of the most interesting artistic experiments to be given in recent times." The Times Literary Supplement also spoke with high praise: "The choruses exceed in length any of his previous poetry; and on the stage they prove the most vital part of the performance. They combine the sweep of psalmody with the exact employment of colloquial words. They are lightly written, as though whispered to the paper, yet are forcible to enunciate. . . . There is exhibited here a command of novel and musical dramatic speech which, considered alone, is an exceptional achievement."
Yet despite his personal trials, this period was one of great literary activity for Eliot. In 1930 he composed the poems Ash-Wednesday and Marina, and published Coriolan and a translation of Saint-John Perse’s Anabase the following year. As director at the British publishing house Faber & Faber and editor of The Criterion, he encouraged W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Louis MacNeice, and Ralph Hogdson, published James Joyce’s Haveth Childers Everywhere, and turned down a book proposal from Eric Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell. Through Eliot’s correspondences from this time the reader gets a full-bodied view of a great artist at a personal, professional, and spiritual crossroads.
This correspondence with friends and mentors vividly documents all the stages of Eliot’s personal and artistic transformation during these crucial years, the continuing anxieties of his private life, and the forging of his public reputation.
MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST
The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers.
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
the devastating loss of both her parents. For so long after, it seemed as though she would never find herself.
On Becoming is the real Toke Makinwa telling us what it is like to be one of the most talked about celebrities in Nigeria. She reveals the truth behind her 14-year relationship with the man she finally married. A marriage that ended
in an atrocious scandal that nearly brought her to her knees.
In the wake of the peaks and troughs that characterise Toke’s experiences, she now shares her struggle with blinding betrayal, finding forgiveness and
drawing strength from her faith in God.
On Becoming is Toke’s journey through pain to victory.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin
From the Paperback edition.
What Remains is a vivid and haunting memoir about a girl from a working-class town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries a prince, Anthony Radziwill. Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. At nineteen, she struck out for New York City to find a different life. Her career at ABC News led her to the refugee camps of Cambodia, to a bunker in Tel Aviv, and to the scene of the Menendez murders. Her marriage led her into the old world of European nobility and the newer world of American aristocracy.
What Remains begins with loss and returns to loss. A small plane plunges into the ocean carrying John F. Kennedy Jr., Anthony’s cousin, and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Carole’s closest friend. Three weeks later Anthony dies of cancer. With unflinching honesty and a journalist’s keen eye, Carole Radziwill explores the enduring ties of family, the complexities of marriage, the importance of friendship, and the challenges of self-invention. Beautifully written, What Remains “gets at the essence of what matters,” wrote Oprah Winfrey. “Friendship, compassion, destiny.”
Unlike views of Depression life "from the bottom up" that rely on recollections recorded several decades later, this book captures the daily anguish of people during the thirties. It puts the reader in direct contact with Depression victims, evoking a feeling of what it was like to live through this disaster.
Following Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration, both the number of letters received by the White House and the percentage of them coming from the poor were unprecedented. The average number of daily communications jumped to between 5,000 and 8,000, a trend that continued throughout the Rosevelt administration. The White House staff for answering such letters--most of which were directed to FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Harry Hopkins--quickly grew from one person to fifty.
Mainly because of his radio talks, many felt they knew the president personally and could confide in him. They viewed the Roosevelts as parent figures, offering solace, help, and protection. Roosevelt himself valued the letters, perceiving them as a way to gauge public sentiment. The writers came from a number of different groups--middle-class people, blacks, rural residents, the elderly, and children. Their letters display emotional reactions to the Depression--despair, cynicism, and anger--and attitudes toward relief.
In his extensive introduction, McElvaine sets the stage for the letters, discussing their significance and some of the themes that emerge from them. By preserving their original spelling, syntax, grammar, and capitalization, he conveys their full flavor.
The Depression was far more than an economic collapse. It was the major personal event in the lives of tens of millions of Americans. McElvaine shows that, contrary to popular belief, many sufferers were not passive victims of history. Rather, he says, they were "also actors and, to an extent, playwrights, producers, and directors as well," taking an active role in trying to deal with their plight and solve their problems.
For this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, McElvaine provides a new foreword recounting the history of the book, its impact on the historiography of the Depression, and its continued importance today.
In August 2007 Jade Goody received the shattering news that she had cervical cancer. She was only 27 years old. But with her usual strength of character, Jade was determined to beat the disease and carry on with life as normal with her two little boys Bobby and Freddy.
Neither the chemotherapy, which left her weak and bald, or the hysterectomy that crushed her dreams of having a little girl, could break Jade's sunny personality or her fierce refusal to be a victim. But in February 2009, Jade received the tragic news that any mother dreads to hear: she was going to be torn from her beloved sons. The cancer had spread and was untreatable.
Forever In My Heart is Jade's final 'love letter' to her two little boys. Covering her initial diagnosis while appearing on Celebrity Big Brother in India, their emotional last Christmas as a family, her magical wedding to her partner Jack Tweed and her dying wish to see be christened with her boys, Jade's heart-breaking diary of her final months is set against a backdrop of flashbacks to her difficult early years, her rise to fame in the Big Brother house and those moments of joy and laughter as the nation's darling.
It is the powerful story of a young mother's brave fight against a terminal disease, her unique humour, her determination to provide for her sons and her fierce desire to leave a legacy which might prevent other young women being torn from their families in the prime of life.
A percentage of profits from the book will be donated to Marie Curie Cancer Care.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young German pastor who was executed by the Nazis in 1945 for his part in the “officers’ plot” to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
This expanded version of Letters and Papers from Prison shifts the emphasis of earlier editions of Bonhoeffer’s theological reflections to the private sphere of his life. His letters appear in greater detail and show his daily concerns. Letters from Bonhoeffer’s parents, siblings, and other relatives have also been added, in addition to previously inaccessible letters and legal papers referring to his trial.
Acute and subtle, warm and perceptive, yet also profoundly moving, the documents collectively tell a very human story of loss, of courage, and of hope. Bonhoeffer’s story seems as vitally relevant, as politically prophetic, and as theologically significant today, as it did yesterday.
Now Echols shares his story in full—from abuse by prison guards and wardens, to portraits of fellow inmates and deplorable living conditions, to the incredible reserves of patience, spirituality, and perseverance that kept him alive and sane while incarcerated for nearly two decades.
In these pages, Echols reveals himself a brilliant writer, infusing his narrative with tragedy and irony in equal measure: he describes the terrors he experienced every day and his outrage toward the American justice system, and offers a firsthand account of living on Death Row in heartbreaking, agonizing detail. Life After Death is destined to be a riveting, explosive classic of prison literature.
The father figure is Leonard, the high-living, recovering coke addict "West Coast Director of a large Italian-American finance firm" (read: mobster) who helped to keep James Frey clean in A Million Little Pieces. The son is, of course, James, damaged perhaps beyond repair by years of crack and alcohol addiction-and by more than a few cruel tricks of fate.
James embarks on his post-rehab existence in Chicago emotionally devastated, broke, and afraid to get close to other people. But then Leonard comes back into his life, and everything changes. Leonard offers his "son" lucrative—if illegal and slightly dangerous—employment. He teaches James to enjoy life, sober, for the first time. He instructs him in the art of "living boldly," pushes him to pursue his passion for writing, and provides a watchful and supportive veil of protection under which James can get his life together. Both Leonard's and James's careers flourish…but then Leonard vanishes. When the reasons behind his mysterious absence are revealed, the book opens up in unexpected emotional ways.
My Friend Leonard showcases a brilliant and energetic young writer rising to important new challenges—displaying surprising warmth, humor, and maturity—without losing his intensity. This book proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a vibrant, deeply personal portrait of this revered American author, illuminating her thoughts, travels, philosophies, writing career, and dealings with family, friends, and fans as never before.
This is a fresh look at the adult life of the author in her own words. Gathered from museums and archives and personal collections, the letters span over sixty years of Wilder’s life, from 1894–1956 and shed new light on Wilder’s day-to-day life. Here we see her as a businesswoman and author—including her beloved Little House books, her legendary editor, Ursula Nordstrom, and her readers—as a wife, and as a friend. In her letters, Wilder shares her philosophies, political opinions, and reminiscences of life as a frontier child. Also included are letters to her daughter, writer Rose Wilder Lane, who filled a silent role as editor and collaborator while the famous Little House books were being written.
Wilder biographer William Anderson collected and researched references throughout these letters and the result is an invaluable historical collection, tracing Wilder’s life through the final days of covered wagon travel, her life as a farm woman, a country journalist, Depression-era author, and years of fame as the writer of the Little House books. This collection is a sequel to her beloved books, and a snapshot into twentieth-century living.
Charles Bukowski was a man of intense emotions, someone an editor once called a “passionate madman.” In On Love, we see Bukowski reckoning with the complications and exaltations of love, lust, and desire. Alternating between tough and gentle, sensitive and gritty, Bukowski lays bare the myriad facets of love—its selfishness and its narcissism, its randomness, its mystery and its misery, and, ultimately, its true joyfulness, endurance, and redemptive power.
Bukowski is brilliant on love—often amusing, sometimes playful, and fleetingly sweet. On Love offers deep insight into Bukowski the man and the artist; whether writing about his daughter, his lover, his friends, or his work, he is piercingly honest and poignantly reflective, using love as a prism to see the world in all its beauty and cruelty, and his own fragile place in it. “My love is a hummingbird sitting that quiet moment on the bough,” he writes, “as the same cat crouches.”
Brutally honest, flecked with humor and pathos, On Love reveals Bukowski at his most candid and affecting.
Neal Cassady is best remembered today as Jack Kerouac’s muse and the basis for the character “Dean Moriarty” in Kerouac’s classic On The Road, and as one of Ken Kesey’s merriest of Merry Pranksters, the driver of the psychedelic bus “Further,” immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. This collection brings together more than two hundred letters to Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, John Clellon Holmes, and other Beat generation luminaries, as well as correspondence between Neal and his wife, Carolyn. These amazing letters cover Cassady’s life between the ages of 18 and 41 and finish just months before his death in February 1968. Brilliantly edited by Dave Moore, this unique collection presents the “Soul of the Beat Generation” in his own words—sometimes touching and tender, sometimes bawdy and hilarious. Here is the real Neal Cassady—raw and uncut.
For John Steinbeck, who hated the telephone, letter-writing was a preparation for work and a natural way for him to communicate his thoughts on people he liked and hated; on marriage, women, and children; on the condition of the world; and on his progress in learning his craft. Opening with letters written during Steinbeck's early years in California, and closing with a 1968 note written in Sag Herbor, New York, Steinbeck: A Life in Letters reveals the inner thoughts and rough character of this American author as nothing else has and as nothing else ever will.
"The reader will discover as much about the making of a writer and the creative process, as he will about Steinbeck. And that's a lot." —Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
"A rewarding book of enduring interest, this becomes a major part of the Steinbeck canon." —The Wall Street Journal
Then Mago touched my belly button . . . She said that my umbilical cord was like a ribbon that connected me to Mami. She said, “It doesn’t matter that there’s a distance btween us now. That cord is there forever.”
When Reyna Grande’s father leaves his wife and three children behind in a village in Mexico to make the dangerous trek across the border to the United States, he promises he will soon return from “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) with enough money to build them a dream house where they can all live together. His promises become harder to believe as months turn into years. When he summons his wife to join him, Reyna and her siblings are deposited in the already overburdened household of their stern, unsmiling grandmother.
The three siblings are forced to look out for themselves; in childish games they find a way to forget the pain of abandonment and learn to solve very adult problems. When their mother at last returns, the reunion sets the stage for a dramatic new chapter in Reyna’s young life: her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.
In this extraordinary memoir, award-winning writer Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years, capturing all the confusion and contradictions of childhood, especially one spent torn between two parents and two countries. Elated when she feels the glow of her father’s love and approval, Reyna knows that at any moment he might turn angry or violent. Only in books and music and her rich imaginary life does she find solace, a momentary refuge from a world in which every place feels like “El Otro Lado.”
The Distance Between Us captures one girl’s passage from childhood to adolescence and beyond. A funny, heartbreaking, lyrical story, it reminds us that the joys and sorrows of childhood are always with us, invisible to the eye but imprinted on the heart, forever calling out to us of those places we first called home.
“The cat is the beautiful devil.”
Felines touched a vulnerable spot in Charles Bukowski’s crusty soul. For the writer, there was something majestic and elemental about these inscrutable creatures he admired, sentient beings whose searing gaze could penetrate deep into our being. Bukowski considered cats to be unique forces of nature, elusive emissaries of beauty and love.
On Cats offers Bukowski’s musings on these beloved animals and their toughness and resiliency. He honors them as fighters, hunters, survivors who command awe and respect as they grip tightly onto the world around them: “A cat is only ITSELF, representative of the strong forces of life that won’t let go.”
Funny, moving, tough, and caring, On Cats brings together the acclaimed writer’s reflections on these animals he so admired. Bukowski’s cats are fierce and demanding—he captures them stalking their prey; crawling across his typewritten pages; waking him up with claws across the face. But they are also affectionate and giving, sources of inspiration and gentle, insistent care.
Poignant yet free of treacle, On Cats is an illuminating portrait of this one-of-a-kind artist and his unique view of the world, witnessed through his relationship with the animals he considered his most profound teachers.
Waris was born into a traditional Somali family, desert nomads who engaged in such ancient and antiquated customs as genital mutilation and arranged marriage. At twelve, she fled an arranged marriage to an old man and traveled alone across the dangerous Somali desert to Mogadishu -- the first leg of an emotional journey that would take her to London as a house servant, around the world as a fashion model, and eventually to America, where she would find peace in motherhood and humanitarian work for the U.N.
Today, as Special Ambassador for the U.N., she travels the world speaking out against the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, promoting women's reproductive rights, and educating people about the Africa she fled -- but still deeply loves.
Desert Flower will be published simultaneously in eleven languages throughout the world and is currently being produced as a feature film by Rocket Pictures UK.
Steinbeck's letters were written on the left-hand pages of a notebook in which the facing pages would be filled with the test of East of Eden. They touched on many subjects—story arguments, trial flights of worknamship, concern for his sons.
Part autobiography, part writer's workshop, these letters offer an illuminating perspective on Steinbeck's creative process, and a fascinating glimpse of Steinbeck, the private man.
Watch for Elizabeth Brown Pryor's new book, Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and its Demons, coming from Viking in February 2017
Robert E. Lee is remembered by history as a tragic figure, stoic and brave but distant and enigmatic. Using dozens of previously unpublished letters as departure points, Pryor produces a stunning personal account of Lee's military ability, shedding new light on every aspect of the complex and contradictory general's life story. Explained for the first time in the context of the young United States's tumultuous societal developments, Lee's actions reveal a man forced to play a leading role in the formation of the nation at the cost of his private happiness.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Tom Robbins’ warm, wise, and wonderfully weird novels—including Still Life With Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates—provide an entryway into the frontier of his singular imagination. Madcap but sincere, pulsating with strong social and philosophical undercurrents, his irreverent classics have introduced countless readers to natural born hitchhiking cowgirls, born-again monkeys, a philosophizing can of beans, exiled royalty, and problematic redheads.
In Tibetan Peach Pie, Robbins turns that unparalleled literary sensibility inward, stitching together stories of his unconventional life, from his Appalachian childhood to his globetrotting adventures —told in his unique voice that combines the sweet and sly, the spiritual and earthy. The grandchild of Baptist preachers, Robbins would become over the course of half a century a poet-interruptus, an air force weatherman, a radio dj, an art-critic-turned-psychedelic-journeyman, a world-famous novelist, and a counter-culture hero, leading a life as unlikely, magical, and bizarre as those of his quixotic characters.
Robbins offers intimate snapshots of Appalachia during the Great Depression, the West Coast during the Sixties psychedelic revolution, international roving before homeland security monitored our travels, and New York publishing when it still relied on trees. Written with the big-hearted comedy and mesmerizing linguistic invention for which he is known, Tibetan Peach Pie is an invitation into the private world of a literary legend.
Through the lens of ten letters to which Obama responded personally, this exceptionally relevant and poignant book explores those individual stories, taking an in-depth look at the misfortunes, needs, opinions, and, yes, anger over the current state of the country that inspired ten people to put pen to paper. Surprisingly, what also emerges from these affecting personal narratives is a story about the astounding endurance and optimism of the American people.
Ten Letters is an inspiring and important book about ordinary people and the issues they face every day—the very issues that are shaping America’s future. This is not an insider Washington book by any means, but a book for the times that tells the real American stories of today.
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.