Many memoirs, in addition to participating in the discursive community of life writing, also partake in the narrative conventions of historiography and fiction, frequently employing what Roland Barthes calls a "reality effect" to infuse their stories with a sense of verisimilitude. This essay explores the cultural phenomenon that is Angela's Ashes, reading Frank McCourt's memoir against the grain of Carolyn Kay Steedman's Landscape for a Good Woman. I am primarily concerned with two lines of inquiry regarding Angela's Ashes: why is this book of history-as-memory so popular-that is, what does its raging popularity reveal about the society that consumes and champions it; and what kind of historiographical practices does the book engage in to achieve its aims of representing itself as an authentic, "true" history?


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pp. 607-624
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