“Angela's Ashes” Author Battling Cancer

The 78-year-old McCourt is being treated for melanoma

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes," Frank McCourt, is battling cancer, but his family is dismissing reports that he is gravely ill.

The 78-year-old McCourt is being treated for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

McCourt's brother Malachy said the author is improving and he dismissed reports that he is gravely ill. "The cancer is in remission,” Malachy said. McCourt is “a hearty fellow and he's survived worse than this."

The New York-born author was in the hospital for about a month ago but is back home and "doing pretty well" while undergoing chemotherapy, his agent Molly Friedrich said.

McCourt, who born in New York to Irish immigrant parents, rose to fame upon the release of his memoir "Angela's Ashes."  The book chronicles McCourt’s poverty-stricken youth after his family returned to Limerick, Ireland during the Great Depression. McCourt's father was an alcoholic and he drank what little money the family had before eventually abandoning his wife and children. Three of McCourt's siblings died and McCourt himself almost died of typhoid when he was a child.

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood,” the book begins.

McCourt lacked a formal education but was able to convince New York University to accept him as a student. After graduation, he taught creative writing in the New York public school system including the presitgious Stuyvesant High School for nearly 30 years.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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