Pete McCarthy- author of the book McCarthy's Bar my book club's selection for this month. McCarthy was a British humorist and travel-essayist who decided that he needed to make a quest to west of Ireland in search of his family roots and a place where he felt he belonged. He decided early on in the trip that he would never pass-by a bar that had his name on it. Though he does detail quite a bit about drinking in the pubs described in the book, it is also a funny and interesting look at a part of Ireland that few of us will visit and is full of warm regard for the Irish people. Anyone interested in traveling to Ireland and getting off the beaten path should really read this book. It look me 99 pages (I was going to quit reading on page 100 otherwise) to decide that I really liked the book and I actually found myself laughing out loud in places as I tore through the rest of it. "Peter McCarthy wrote his books with pen and paper and upon answering a question that asked if he was a technophobe replied: 'Yes big time. I've got a kettle and a fridge, but I don't own a computer, a word processor or even a typewriter.' " (Wikipedia) I was shocked to learn that Mr. McCarthy died in 2004 after a brief bout with cancer. I would have loved to hear him in person at some author event, I bet he was a hoot.
Frank McCourt- the author of three memoirs: the wildly popular memoir Angela's Ashes, "Tis, and Teacher Man. He died in July of 2009. I listened to all three on audio books and McCourt read them himself. He had a lovely Irish brogue that somehow he never lost even though he lived in the United States for over 50 years before his death. I urge you to listen to one of these recordings. They are masterfully done. My husband and I met McCourt in October 2008. He was the keynote speaker at a library convention I attended and my husband joined me to hear this phenomenal writer in person. He read us an excerpt from his book Teacher Man about his first day on the job when he got in trouble for eating the sandwich of a student who had thrown it across the room at another student. His description of this event was so vivid and hilarious. At the end of the speech all the other librarians got up and started exiting the building. Not me. I grabbed by husband by the arm and pulled him to the front of the room so that we could meet McCourt in person. "Heck," I thought, "he's just an old educator like me." Now there is a memory I shall treasure forever.
Madeline L'Engle-the author of one of my childhood favorites, A Wrinkle in Time, and many, many books for young people. I read an early L'Engle novel, Camilla, this summer as part of my self-imposed "Decades" assignment (more about this in an up-coming post.) Though the writing was good I wasn't very taken with the book because it seemed so dated. As I was searching around on-line to determine it's first copyright date (1951) I learned about L'Engle's death in 2007. I walked around depressed for days, even though she had died years before. I know authors can't live forever but Madeline L'Engle was one of the first authors that I truly loved. Apparently Wrinkle is one of the most banned books because it questions Judeo-Christian views of God. This is amazing since I think of L'Engle as being a tremendously spiritual writer. It makes one wonder if the people out to ban books actually read the books.
The NY Times reported that L'Engle often said that her real truths were in her fiction.
“Why does anybody tell a story?” she once asked, even though she knew the answer.
“It does indeed have something to do with faith,” she said, “faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”Isn't that cool? I agree with Madeline. What we do and what we say does matter. It matters a lot.
Thank you Ms. L'Engle, Pete McCarthy, and Mr. Frank McCourt for sharing your words and your stories with us!