Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

5.0 3
by Nick Flynn
     
 

"A stunningly beautiful new memoir . . . a near-perfect work of literature." —Stephen Elliot, San Francisco Chronicle
Nick Flynn met his father when he was working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston. As a teenager he'd received letters from this stranger father, a self-proclaimed poet and con man doing time in federal prison for bank robbery.

…  See more details below

Overview

"A stunningly beautiful new memoir . . . a near-perfect work of literature." —Stephen Elliot, San Francisco Chronicle
Nick Flynn met his father when he was working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston. As a teenager he'd received letters from this stranger father, a self-proclaimed poet and con man doing time in federal prison for bank robbery. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City tells the story of the trajectory that led Nick and his father onto the streets, into that shelter, and finally to each other.

Editorial Reviews

Vendela Vida
Flynn's talents are considerable -- he has a compelling voice and a wry sense of humor, especially about himself. He avoids the pitfalls that come with his subject matter: when writing about his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, he keeps therapy-speak at bay; when describing his work at the shelter, he's utterly unsanctimonious.
— The New York Times
Michael Mewshaw
Although in synopsis the story may sound depressing, the prose swirls in graceful arcs that frequently rise to the level of poetry, leavened by mordant humor.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Flynn's wayward father, a self-styled writer and ex-con, describes his life on Boston's streets as "another bullshit night in Suck City": he hangs out in ATM lobbies, stuffs his coat with newspaper and is often "still drunk from the night before." This biting memoir describes the years poet Flynn (Some Ether; Blind Huber) spent, in his late 20s, working at one of the city's homeless shelters, where his path crisscrossed with his down-and-out father's. In examining their troublesome relationship, Flynn admits to feeling lost, as he turned to alcohol and came close to being on the other side of the shelter admissions booth himself. Punchy language and short chapters make what could otherwise be excessively painful more palatable (e.g., "Fact: In 1839 Dostoyevsky witnessed a mob of peasants attacking his father.... they poured vodka down his throat until he died. Fact: I can watch my father pouring vodka down his own throat any day of the week. My role is to play the son, though I often feel like a mob of peasants"). Although it's depressing, the book never seems hopeless, because readers know the author has succeeded at doing what his father only pretended to do: write, and write well. Agent, Bill Clegg. (Sept.) Forecast: Norton has high hopes for this memoir; they promoted it heavily at BEA and have planned an author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Winner of Guggenheim and Witter Bynner fellowships, poet Flynn (Blind Huber) here offers a memoir that is likely one of the best books you will read in 2004. This nonfiction account weaves back and forth between Flynn's childhood in Scituate, MA, and his time working as a caseworker at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter in Boston. The narrative moves between these worlds until they collide, and we join Flynn in the present for the final chapters. The memoir addresses Flynn's difficult relationships with his parents his mother committed suicide when Flynn was in college, and his distant father still lives in Boston (as of 2003) and his journey to survive them and, at times, himself. Hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, it has been compared to Conroy's Stop-Time and David Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius but is really in a class by itself. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries and essential for libraries supporting a literature program. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/04.] Felicity D. Walsh, Southern Polytechnic State Univ., Marietta, GA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A noir family history told in small ladlings-perhaps all the reader may want to absorb at one time, or all the talented Flynn (Some Ether, 2000) can pour at a sitting. His mother left her husband when the author was four years old. In a snapshot taken in the early 1960s, "I crawl toward my father's face as we lay on the grass. . . . The father as ship, as vessel, holding the child afloat. But there was a parallel father as well-the drunk, the con, the paranoid. The father as ship, but taking on water, going down." Flynn didn't see his father again for 24 years. In the interval, his mother committed suicide after hovering "in the realm of vapor and shade," though not before her son had embarked on his drinking career: "By the time Saigon falls I'm drinking whatever liquor I can get my hands on." He's 15. When Dad finally gives him a call, they are both wrecks: the elder an alcoholic ex-con living flop to flop, rifling garbage cans, still making stabs at writing, but more concerned with how to stay dry on a rainy night; the younger a doper, part-time drug-runner, working in a homeless shelter, adrift on a "sea of forgetfulness." While the author ever so slowly, with lots of swings, gathers himself, his father takes to driving a taxi, more for scoping out sleeping venues than collecting fares. Flynn drives the homeless shelter van at night, each bundle a push-pull chance to encounter his father. The voice here is boiled just right: tough, articulate, mindful, without self-pity. There will be little bonding, and any knitting up of the ragged sleeve will have to wait for another time and plane. This is "the book that somehow fell to me, the son, to write," states the author, describing himselfas "my father's uncredited, non-compliant ghostwriter." So give credit now, where it is well due. Author tour. Agent: Bill Clegg
Vendela Vida - New York Times Book Review
“Flynn has written a potent, distinctive autobiography.... Flynn's talents are considerable—he has a compelling voice and wry sense of humor, especially about himself.”
Michael Mewshaw - Washington Post
“The prose swirls in graceful arcs that frequently rise to the level of poetry, leavened by mordant humor.... It's a powerful tale, stylishly told.”
Devin Friedman - GQ
“In a perverse act of divine intervention, a life worth writing about was bestowed on a man actually able to write—in startling, beautiful, unsentimental prose.... It is crammed with beauty and wisdom, and everyone will love it.”
Elissa Schappel - Vanity Fair
“A remarkable feat: a clear-eyed, inventive, and astonishingly honest guided tour of hell.”
Darren Reidy - Village Voice
“Flynn's authentic voice... holds us rapt, keeping both the tragic and the redemptive possibilities open.”
Thomas Curwen - Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Told with energy, critical reflection and sensitivity, 'Another Bullshit Night in Suck City' is less a memoir than a study of one of America's darker conundrums: homelessness.”
Kate Bolick - Boston Globe
“[Flynn's] story is eerie testimony to the potent influence of an absent parent. But Nick, a poet, is too subtle a writer to say so outright, and instead lets us draw our own conclusions with a delicate, poetic logic.”
Troy Patterson - Entertainment Weekly
“Unlike the pity parties that too many memoirs have become, 'Night' has no maudlin gestures, no 'inspirational' tones, no hysterics; it stares down emptiness with clear, dry eyes.”
A.M. Homes

?Another Bullshit Night in Suck City ?is one of the best books I've read in years—a heartbreaking, searing story—the perfect memoir. Nick Flynn hurls himself toward the blunt trauma of history, toward his fear of what he himself might become. It is a story of self-discovery in the best sense, and also a story of the dissembling of history, the fight to keep oneself whole, and the inherent obligations of biology.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393051391
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/20/2004
Pages:
347
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Nick Flynn is the author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and The Ticking Is the Bomb. He divides his time between Houston and Brooklyn.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >