The opening passage from Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt speaks to the heart, gut, and mind.
In just a few sentences, the author gives us an almost Dickensian description of his childhood: the underprivileged social background, the religious education, the national poverty.
All of these are brought to life by the brief but eloquent sketches he paints of his dysfunctional parents, of his inadequate authority figures, and of the English.
All of whom disappoint.
"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived 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.
. . . nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years."