Author Frank McCourt is battling meningitis and the outlook is not good, his brother said.
Frank McCourt, who went from teaching English in city schools to winning a Pulitzer for “Angela’s Ashes,” is gravely ill with meningitis. The 78-year-old author, who has been fighting skin cancer, is in a hospice and “his faculties [are] shutting down,” brother Malachy McCourt said Thursday. “He is not expected to live.” McCourt had been undergoing treatment for deadly melanoma, but was doing well enough that doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center let him return to his home in Connecticut. About two weeks ago, Frank McCourt contracted meningitis and took a turn for the worse. Malachy McCourt, who is also a writer, said, “He’s still conscious, but his hearing has gone and his eyesight is going.”
The news comes as a shock to New Yorkers, who have followed the Irishman for decades from teacher to unlikely literary star. McCourt taught English in New York public schools for decades, including 17 years at NYC’s Stuyvesant High School. He shot to international prominence in 1996 with the publication of his first book, “Angela’s Ashes,” which became an instant best seller, won a fistful of awards and was made into a movie. The memoir tells the story of his impoverished youth in Limerick, Ireland, after his immigrant parents returned there from Brooklyn when he was 4 years old. His second book, “‘Tis” continued telling his life story in New York, and his third book, “Teacher Man,” chronicled his years in the classroom.
He described it as one of his greatest honors when he was invited to give the 1997 address to Stuyvesant grads. “This is something else,” he said, after delighting the crowd with an irreverent speech. “This means something to me.”