Friday, July 17, 2009

On Frank McCourt

Yesterday evening, Jennifer and I were saddened to read the Associated Press report that Frank McCourt--famed author of Angela's Ashes and a long-time English teacher in the New York City public school system--is facing "imminent" death. Frank's brother, Malachy, made a statement which said, among other things, that his brother's "faculties are shutting down" and that Frank McCourt is currently in hospice care.

As I read the news item, I felt tears well up in me. Had I ever met Frank McCourt? No. So why was I so saddened, and with such immediacy? The answer resides in a single word Mr. McCourt e-mailed me about two years ago when Jennifer and I were beginning the long journey of editing an anthology of original work whose profts would be donated to The Save Darfur Coalition, entitled Dedicated to the People of Darfur: Writings on Fear, Risk, and Hope.

Jennifer and I had been contacting authors whom we admired to ask if they would contribute original pieces written especially for this volume. Many authors we asked were quite famous, while many others were little-known and some were even entirely unpublished. Most of the famed authors rejected our query. (Of course, their lives are incredibly busy--and most likely they are inundated by requests such as ours, also for good causes.)

However, what stands out regarding Frank McCourt's response to our invitation is a single word.

This, in sum total, was the e-mail Mr. McCourt sent us in reply to our query--would he join this anthology and write a new, original piece to benefit The Save Darfur Coalition?

"Dear Luke:


Frank McCourt."

Fast forward two years: Frank McCourt's essay arrives in my e-mail inbox, and I read his glorious, insightful words.

Frank McCourt is a man whose soul is sweet, whose heart is good, and whose willingness to help, to teach, to write, and to love is unbounding.

Thank you, Mr. Frank McCourt. Thank you so very much.

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