To 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.