Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes died today at the age of 78. My wife was supposed to be in a writer’s workshop with him this week but, alas, that was not to be. Via Hemant Mehta, I give this eulogy from one of his ex-students, Daniel Radosh:
Over the years I’d run into McCourt periodically and he was always warm and friendly. I last saw him a few months ago at an event he did in Woodstock and when I gave him a copy of Rapture Ready! he held it up for the crowd and beamed, “Former student!” It was perhaps the most rewarding response I’ve had.
Beyond the practical lessons I learned in Frank McCourt’s class, I’ll always remember him as a model for how to be cynical without being jaded and sarcastic without being inhumane. I’m pretty sure he did not believe in God or an afterlife, but he had to believe that there is an immortality in living so that your words and actions transform the world around you in ways that will continue to reverberate forever. No one with so much life in him can ever truly die. And if there were an afterlife, I can guarantee you that somewhere right now, Frank McCourt would be mightily pissed off that he’s not around for what’s sure to be a hell of a wake.
I can only wish that an ex-student would say that about me when my time comes.