Yes, it is odd, you reading 'Teacher Man' on the very day I'm called out of this life. And here we are having a quick chat.
Not just reading the book—trying to get up the nerve to write my own. Actually, it's not the first time I've had uncanny encounters right around the time of someone's death. It seems to be a sort of window or aperture between worlds.
Well, let's hope folks can't just conjure me for inspiration, or I'll never move on. After 'Angela's Ashes,' I became a sort of patron saint to literary late bloomers, all hungering for a bit of encouragement to write their sad life stories.
What would you tell them?
Why, to do it, of course! What have you got to lose? Why wait as long as I did, when you're a mere child of 52 with your whole life ahead of you?
I just...who the hell wants to hear my story at book length?
What is it, then, your 'story'?
[Reluctant pause] Needy, infuriating Irish mother and the struggle to survive her dance with death?
Nah, you're right, 'twould never sell.
Very funny. But Mr. McCourt, you had this...this epic of childhood suffering to draw on.
And you have this epic house, and all the lot of it that went on here. It doesn't matter if it's Limerick or Flatbush, it's the tales you tell, waiting to get out and breathe on their own, and maybe the little bit of wisdom you won.
That's another thing—the exposure...you took some heat for how much you revealed, how did you have the guts?
Oh, what rubbish. Do you have a friend that couldn't recite the stories along with you by now? I thought not. We spend years telling the tales, to our drinking buddies, to our students, to taxicab drivers, and then go all shy at the sight of a keyboard. Think of it as bestowing the gift of immortality. Speaking of which, I'll be off now. Raise a pint to me now and then.
Mr. McCourt? Thanks.
[All is quiet]
And may you be in Heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.
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