Friday, April 1, 2011

Angela's Ashes

Just finished Frank McCort's memoir, Angela's Ashes. I have had this book on my shelf for years and avoided reading it because I knew it would be sad. There was already so much sadness going on in my life already, I didn't want to bring more in. But in March, I always try to read a few books by Irish authors. And I'd read a quick one by Maeve Binchey so decided before the month ended I'd finally pick up Angela's Ashes. I finished it in two-three days. And now wish I had someone to discuss it with. It is yes a sad book, but very impacting. So you forgive the sadness.

What would I want to discuss? The role of the Catholic church in the lives of its followers; the funny parts of the book; how angry I was at Frank's father for his alcoholism; the anger I felt at Frank's family for knowingly treating he and his family poorly; the relationship between ignorance and poverty. That would just be a start. I will definitely have to get the sequel "'Tis" as soon as I am able, because now I am on pins and needles wanting to know what happens next. And I had forgotten that this memoir was made into a movie so I can look forward to seeing that too.

I guess the tie in here to widowhood is how much I miss having someone to talk to, really talk to about books, life, my feelings, dreams, fears, etc. You can't have much of a meaningful conversation with the grocery check-out clerk. Both of my husbands filled this role, and I will have to say that my second husband and I talked much more at length and at a deeper level than my first husband and I did. He also asked me to always relate the plots of the books I was reading and I appreciated his interest. To have someone ask you to fully relate the plot of the book you've finished and to really be interested in your rendition of it!

I brought up my desire to discuss this book while I was at my knit club and someone shot back with, "Join a book club." Boy, I've heard that one a lot over the years. But I guess what I'm missing here is not so much the need to discuss a book, but the deeper need for intimacy with another person.

At the volleyball tournament tonight as I sat alone in the stands, I looked at the couples around me. They seemed so familiar with one another. To know someone so well as to have them be predictable - that is a good thing. I imagined these couples going home tonight and into their beds and then making love with one another. Each of them so familiar with one another that the curves and creases of their known bodies bring them comfort, safety and a sense of security. As well as excitement.

This October I would have been married to husband #1 for 20 years and we would have shared the intimacy I felt radiate from the couples on the stands with me. I have never been excited about the prospect of dating again because it will be fun to get to know someone and all the stuff about the glow of new love. The first time husband #1 and I had sex I remember saying to him, "Oh, just let's do it to get it over with. After this first time it will start getting way better."

Talking about Angela's Ashes would lead to more deeper conversation. I hope someday to have the level of intimacy I shared with both my husbands. I hope to feel that familiarity that comes from really knowing someone and accepting them, flaws and all. And in fact loving them for their flaws.


  1. I'm a very occasional reader, though I did read Angela's Ashes long ago. I'm not quite clear about something you said. Do you want to discuss how a book affects you with someone who has read the same book or share what the book meant to you with someone who cares but has not read the book? Would a non reader really 'get' why you love to read so much? And could you fall in love with someone who doesn't read? I'd love to know.

  2. I LOVED Angela's Ashes--I first read it eight or nine years ago and have reread several times since--but I didn't like 'Tis as much. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

    I've actually found online communities the best place to discuss almost everything from books to movies. Something about having time to think about and type out responses seems to foster deeper discussion than a face-to-face conversation, at least for me. I do know what you mean, though, about being able to really talk to someone--I do have some good friends I talk to about various things, but it's different than talking to my husband was.

  3. Flo - I think you can discuss and talk about books with readers or non-readers. Both of my husbands weren't fiction readers preferring newspapers, news magazines and historical accounts. But I was still able to share what I was reading - they were interested. I read before bed, in bed so they always had some idea of what book it was. So yes, I can/could fall in love with someone who reads less than I.

    Vanessa - It is nice to be able to hear that someone LOVED the book because I did too. And I do agree, that typing out responses does lead to a deeper discussion about the topic sometimes than face-to-face interaction.

    I've come to the conclusion that humans need to have intimacy (and I'm not just referring to physical connection here) in their lives. We get that by relating and connecting deeply to others, and that just seems to be missing in my life to the point of starting to drive me bonkers!

  4. Hi,
    I just discovered your blog through the a to z challenge. I am also part of it. Your story seemed to draw me in. Rebuilding a life is hard work. My blog is about holding on to my life while I care for my elderly mom.

    I look forward to reading your posts, even the older ones

    Retired knitter