In Memoriam: Frank McCourt

tdy_couric_mccourt_051115.300wTo my knowledge, Frank McCourt did not spend a lot of time thinking about animal issues.  However, he was the first person who taught me to care about writing and to appreciate the power of language.  He did that as he did everything — with a twinkling eye and a raft of good stories.

Every Friday, we read the NY Times restaurant review in class.  He used to say: “If you can write well about food, you can write well about anything.”  Mimi Sheraton was the food critic back then and she wrote marvelously about food.  Mr. McCourt loved reading her columns aloud and his delight in her prose was itself utterly delightful.  To this day, I still read the restaurant column every week even though I don’t live in NYC and can’t remember the last time I actually went to a restaurant it reviewed.

Mr. McCourt also taught me to write only about things I really care about.  He always said, “If it doesn’t interest you, what makes you think it will interest me?”   Back then, I didn’t think animal issues were important.  But I do now and were it not for him, I don’t know that I would be teaching and writing about them.   So, I like to consider Mr. McCourt an animal advocate by proxy.

In any case, he was a truly wonderful teacher.  I will miss him and I wish him safe travels.

Frank McCourt: 1930-2009.

–David Cassuto

One Response

  1. He also adored M.F.K. Fisher. I remember he drove my parents crazy with his unorthodox approach– my parents were products of the same crazy nuns and cracked brothers as he was, but to them, that was how you got teaching done, not telling us stories for the entire class (that’s wasn’t “working,” either on his or our part). What I remember about Frank best, besides his kindness and encouragement to me, was that the poor man was the beleaguered repository of more unsought, fevered teenage confidences than any other person I have ever seen. It never seemed to occur to us that Frank had problems of his own, although they were often right there for us to see. And it never seemed to occur to Frank to not listen. Rest in peace, Mr. McCourt.

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