Ashes to ashes
Frank McCourt has died. And whatever you think of his literary output, the fact that he published his first book, the one that went on to win the Pulitzer Prize, when he was 66, has given hope to all of those with novels in their pockets worried that if they haven’t hit the literary big time by 30, they’re toast. For balancing out precocious talents like Jonathan Safran Foer’s, and reminding people that a a literary start can come at any age, I salute McCourt, who’s given me another thirty years to get cracking. In the meantime, this, from Angela’s Ashes, as the young Frank McCourt receives his First Communion.
“It stuck. I had God glued to the roof of my mouth. I could hear the master’s voice, Don’t let that host touch your teeth for if you bite God in two you’ll roast in hell for eternity. I tried to get God down with my tongue but the priest hissed at me, Stop that clucking and get back to your seat. God was good. He melted and I swallowed Him and now, at last, I was a member of the True Church, an official sinner.”