Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt: goodbye to an old friend.

"Old friend" may be a strong claim. I haven't seen or spoken to Frank, other than on a couple of isolated occasions such as the memorial party for our common friend Dennis Duggan, since he became famous as a writer and television commentator. Back in the day, though, we spent some hours talking on adjacent barstools at the Bells of Hell and the Lion's Head. I heard many of the stories that later were told in Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man in the course of those conversations.

The Frank McCourt anecdote I have to offer, however, comes from a public event--a memorial concert for Tommy Clancy of the Clancy Brothers--at which he emceed and told the following joke:

How do you tell an Irishman from an Englishman? It's in how they propose marriage. An Englishman says, "Dahling, I love you. Will you marry me?" But an Irishman says, "Mary, how would you like to be buried with my people?"
I pray this will be the last of the "goodbye" posts I must write for a while.

Update: Here's the New York Times obituary.

Second update: In yesterday's Times, Eric Konigsberg quotes one of Frank's former students as comparing him to Lou Reed.