Another Bullshit Night in Suck City / Edition 1by Nick Flynn
Pub. Date: 09/19/2005
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Nick Flynn met his father when he was twenty-seven years old, 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. Nick, his own life precariously unsettled (his mother committed suicide when he was in his late teens),… See more details below
Nick Flynn met his father when he was twenty-seven years old, 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. Nick, his own life precariously unsettled (his mother committed suicide when he was in his late teens), was living alternatively in a ramshackle boat and in a warehouse that was once a strip joint. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (a phrase Flynn senior uses to describe his life on the streets) tells the story of two lives, the story of Nick's boyhood in Scituate, Massachusetts, with his brother and young mother who struggled to keep the family together and the story of his larger-than-life father who refused to play by the rules, and the eerie trajectory that led Nick and his father into that homeless shelter, onto those streets, and finally to each other.
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I loved this book. I'm normally a very dedicated fiction reader, but this book grabbed me. From the title, to seeing Flynn on the Dennis Miller show, I decided it sounded like an interesting enough TRUE story for me to read. Flynn writes pretty much in the same minimalistic fashion as Palahniuk, Clevenger, and Baer, where the only punctuation is periods and commas, but the story isn't hinged upon perfect prose. If, however, you are a literary snob, you might want to put this down and go re-read Michael Chabon's latest. Flynn tells an interesting story like he would if he were talking right to your face, and manages to get across what he needs to without being too sentimental. A couple times I was sure it was fiction, but only because of my overwhelming enjoyment.
This is simply the best book that I've ever read. Perhaps biased by having grown up in the same town at the same time, a fact that allows his imagery to truly come alive for me, I was also blown away by the way every line is so delicately, perfectly constructed. Self depricating without being pitiful, saintly without expecting, or I imagine even accepting recognition, Flynn tells his hugely emotional life story as if it was that of the average Joe. I learned about myself, about my city, and about the world through his eyes. I sincerely hope that he writes more, and soon.
Nick Flynn has written, arguably, the best memoir of the year. Do not be turned away by the hipster title: this book carries weight, while the narrative is punchy and jarring, the prose soars, weightless and atmostpheric. There is a sublimity to the language, and the story he tells with it, that Flynn can call his own. This is not a confessional. It is a radical aporia of a text, bearing witness to the true and often terrifying relationship to the father. Please buy this book and read it, and then give it to many others.