Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frank McCourt's Later Acts

It's refreshing to find a well-known author, light-years above me but in a sense a kindred spirit, writing about a topic I care about. I reviewed fellow septuagenarian Frank McCourt's book Teacher Man favorably here on September 8, 2006 (see the blog archives or click on "Book Reviews" under "Labels" on the right), and of course I enjoyed reading McCourt's first big success, Angela's Ashes, earlier.

Last Sunday, I found McCourt's "We All Can Have Second Acts (& Third)" in the March 9 issue of the Parade Sunday supplement. The author begins by quoting an even better-known author, F. Scott Fitzgerald: "There are no second acts in American lives." Since Fitzgerald died long ago at age 44, he had no chance to encounter the realities of aging in the 21st century.

Like me, McCourt learned, after years of teaching, that writing was what he really wanted to do, so he published the best-selling Angela's Ashes at age 66, became famous, and continued his next act as a writer. Counting his life of dead-end jobs before teaching, writing is his third act.

"The world was shocked to learn that I was 66--and wrote a best seller," says McCourt. He adds, toward the end of his article, "No matter how long you live, you have stories to tell, and nestling in each one there may be a nugget of wisdowm. Dreams come with tremendous energy, with shimmering horizons. What else is there to do to head off the Conestoga wagon of the soul?"

Here's an ally who agrees with me about the benefits of writing and the possibility of second and third acts in life. This is a different age than F. Scott Fitzgerald's. In case you missed Frank McCourt's article, you can read it on line:

Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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