January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

PROJECT ‘Tis, Frank McCourt’s new book, due this September.
THE DETAILS McCourt promises a tragicomic tale that picks up where Angela’s Ashes left off, with a few pit stops — including his less-than stellar stint in the U.S. Army. ”I was in Germany, in the canine corps,” says McCourt, 68, ”despite no rapport whatsoever with dogs. Then I became a teacher. Wasn’t that a logical progression?”
AT STAKE A family’s cottage industry. The Pulitzer-winning Ashes (the film will star Emily Watson) also spelled success for brother Malachy, who wrote the best-seller A Monk Swimming. Nephew Conor directed The McCourts of Limerick, and now The McCourts of New York (premiering in March on Cinemax). There are even Angela’s Ashes tours in Limerick (where presumably you learn how to collect horse droppings for fuel).
THE BUZZ How feverishly is ‘Tis anticipated? ”It’s up there with Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full,” says John F. Baker, editorial director of Publishers Weekly. Scribner is placing a million-plus order, and Hollywood’s salivating for the sequel. ”Whatever Frank writes,” says producer David Brown, who bought the rights to Ashes with coproducer Scott Rudin, ”Scott and I will be first in line [to buy it].”
SILENCE, EXILE, AND CUNNING (James Joyce’s advice for writers) The Matt Damon of the Irish memoir, McCourt still somehow manages to write. ”I struggle with the damn book every day,” he says of his as-yet-unfinished follow-up. ”It’s like going into the bedroom with somebody — you close the door. All this other noise is beyond me. It’s like trying to understand the checks I get now.”

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