I'm considering "Teacher Man," but FWIW, I read 'Tis without having read or seen Angela's Ashes and found it just fine on its own. If you do read Teacher Man, please let us know how it is.
"In all our woods there is not a tree so hard to kill as the buckeye. The deepest girdling does not deaden it, and even after it is cut down and worked up into the side of a cabin it will send out young branches, denoting to all the world that Buckeyes are not easily conquered, and could with difficulty be destroyed." - Daniel Drake, 1833