Bikeman

Bikeman

by Thomas Flynn

Hardcover

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Overview

On September 11, 2001, journalist Tom Flynn set off on his bike toward the World Trade Towers not knowing what he was riding into. Bikeman is one man's journey back to the horrors of that day and to the humanity that somehow emerged from the dust and the death. Both heartbreaking and haunting, his words will stay with you like that 'forever September morning.'" --Meredith Vieira, NBC's Today

Tom Flynn brings to his subject three invaluable attributes: the eye of a seasoned journalist, the soul of a poet, and his stunning, first-hand experience of that horrific day." --David Friend, Vanity Fair

From Bikeman:
The dead from here
are my forever companions
I am their pine box,
their marble reliquary,
their bronze urn,
the living, breathing coffin they never had,
their final resting place without a stone.
I move on at peace.

Modeled on Dante's Inferno, veteran journalist Thomas Flynn's Bikeman chronicles the morning of September 11, 2001 like no other published work. Flynn delivers a personal account of his experiences beginning with the first strike on the World Trade Center when he decided to follow his journalist's instinct and point his bike's handlebars in the direction of the north tower. His story continues as he transitions from reporter to participant hoping to survive the fall of the south tower. Now Flynn, as both journalist and now survivor, must come to terms with the harrowing ordeal and somehow find peace in the very act of surviving.

Part journalist's record, part survivor's eulogy, Flynn writes:
Survival is the absence of death.
It is a subdued, a hushed existence. . .
I live to talk about it,
to relate the tale as it happens,
not only its extremities and cruelty,
but also the goodness that flourishes too.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780740775598
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication date: 08/01/2008
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 3 Months

About the Author

 Thomas Flynn is an award-winning television producer and writer. He explains that the style of this book formed as he re-read Dante's Inferno and began to realize how "the parallel worlds of his journey to hell and mine ran together." Flynn is married to Nancy Reardon and has a daughter, Kate. He divides his time between downtown New York City and Cape Cod.

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Bikeman 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
On Sept. 11, 2001 , Thomas Flynn worked for CBS News. When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, Flynn rode his bicycle to the site as a journalist, following his muse of curiosity. ¿If this coming event were a mythical beast/¿my muse would not counsel caution/¿but push me closer to the flame,¿ he writes in the third canto. Flynn uses Dante¿s Inferno as inspiration for style and form in translating the unspeakable experiences of that day into free verse that allow the reader to believe he knows what it was like in lower Manhattan on what Flynn calls ¿this forever September morning.¿ We can¿t, unless we were there. And even if we were there, the interpretation of sights, sounds and smells is unique to each person experiencing them. What Flynn does is take the reader inside his experience and memory of September 11th. He takes us along on his transformation from journalist to participant. It is a first- hand account like none other that should be shared with as many people as possible. We walk next to Flynn and his bicycle as he watches the first tower collapse and during his panicked flight from the scene. We wait with him in a parking garage buried in the rubble and take every dust-laden step that carries him away the inferno. Some would likely call Flynn a survivor of the attack. He agrees, but uses a different definition. Although some may believe that poetry isn¿t for everyone, that it eludes a common dominator that popular culture does not, that it is best kept for academia in its ivory towers or elitists secure in the supposition that their reading habits elevate them above the mythical common man, I don¿t agree. At its best, and Flynn meets these challenges ably, poetry makes the intangible tangible. Metaphors and imagery translate the indescribable. When done well, poetry pulls you in, wrapping you in its arms of rhythm, letting meter carry you from one image to the next. It allows the words to take root in your mind and transform back into the indescribable that is now a part of you.
innermurk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first saw Bikeman I wasn't sure what to anticipate. Was this another heart wrenching sensationalized account of the suffering that happened? Was it a bitter accusation full of conspiracy or blame? Opening the book, I read the forward, still unsure what to expect out of the story, but a little more familiar with Thomas Flynn, the author. Eagerly, I turned the page. Next was the defense of poetry section. I wish they'd left that out. Poetry may not be the modern mode of communication or record keeping in this day of texting, acronyms, and three seconds of attention span, but to start off by assuming that everyone is going to object to it made me expect the worst. It's kind of like starting a speech by apologizing for yourself. Just don't do it.After reading the defense of the book's form, if not the book itself, I wasn't really in the mood to continue so I put it down for a bit. When I again picked it up, I skipped right to the start of the epic. And that is where it should have begun.It's not cringe-worthy rhymes or broken halting rhythm. It is simply stated and formatted observations from that day. It doesn't accuse, it doesn't blame, it doesn't sensationalize. It simply puts forth an experience. I've always thought poetry was best when the poet was able to play with language and make it sound good and look simple, like an ice skater that gracefully glides and jumps, looking effortless, almost weightless on the ice. Flynn does that, and it was beautiful to read. The descriptions are just the right depth, the thoughts and feelings recorded beautifully. Reading the poem is truly an experience of that day, but the rest of the story, the feelings, the emotions, are left to the reader. We're not told what to think, what to feel, or how, we're left to simply experience the author's day, and then remember our own memories and experiences. It blends that one viewpoint with my own seamlessly. I was able to relate, not by remembering the TV endlessly replaying those scenes, the horrific images published over and over again and burned into memory, stirring up the bile in my throat at the senselessness, the horror, and the pure terror of it all, but in a gentler fashion, to remember that this happened, that these were real lives, and horrible things were endured, and we need to know and remember, but not be terrified of it, ashamed of it, alarmed, angered, or stirred up to some emotion we cannot control, or be controlled by.Of all the accounts I've read of that day, this is by far the least encompassing, but the most engaging. The lack of true names depersonalizes it just enough to allow the reader to float along filling in blanks with their own perceptions. It becomes that much more internalized when the reader can place themselves there, hard to do when specifics are mentioned and names that the reader cannot ever claim to know or have known are identified.I commend the epic, and I am glad that I was able to experience it with Flynn, if only indirectly and years afterwards.
maryanntherese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thomas Flynn's Bikeman is a moving epic poem about his experiences in Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001.If the word "poetry" evokes highbrow language and stilted rhymes, do not be put off. Flynn's poetry is free-form prose, and it speaks in the vernacular. In the following verses, he contrasts the burning towers, while they stood, with the Statue of Liberty, just off in the harbor:"No, this is not the lady of the harbor / who carries the torch of dreams. / It is a barbarian beacon, with no intention / to warn those who see her beams."Flynn's story is harrowing. Parts of it are painfully -- and "painfully" is really an inadequate word -- sad. It is completely devoid of humor, but not of compassion. It is real. It concerns his experiences in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the towers.I have been privileged to read the personal story of a survivor of the Twin Towers. He wrote that story shortly after the attacks, in an email sent to his colleague, my sister. She sent it to me, and since then I have read it over on subsequent September 11's. Of course, that is a private memoir. Now, here is a memoir which the entire world can share.I cried through Bikeman. It is cathartic. Why do I need to read these stories of survivors? Why was I plastered to the television for weeks that September? Disbelief? Compassion? Guilt? I don't know. But I think I value this because it is so easy to forget, for those of us who experienced this from afar, the raw horror of death and destruction. We should never forget.I am a homeschool mom. My boys will read Bikeman in high school, when they study Modern / American history.
indygo88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not generally being a reader of poetry, I'm not sure that I can give this book a good objective review. It's a quick read -- you can easily read it in one brief sitting, which is probably the way you should read something such as this. I think perhaps I was hoping for something more, although I'm not sure I can put into words what exactly that was. It's a nice, somewhat superficial view of what an observer on the fringes witnessed & experienced on the day we infamously call "9/11", but I found myself disappointed, wanting more details of this sad day in history.
tammydotts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On Sept. 11, 2001 , Thomas Flynn worked for CBS News. When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, Flynn rode his bicycle to the site as a journalist, following his muse of curiosity. ¿If this coming event were a mythical beast/¿my muse would not counsel caution/¿but push me closer to the flame,¿ he writes in the third canto.Flynn uses Dante¿s Inferno as inspiration for style and form in translating the unspeakable experiences of that day into free verse that allow the reader to believe he knows what it was like in lower Manhattan on what Flynn calls ¿this forever September morning.¿ We can¿t, unless we were there. And even if we were there, the interpretation of sights, sounds and smells is unique to each person experiencing them.What Flynn does is take the reader inside his experience and memory of September 11th. He takes us along on his transformation from journalist to participant. It is a first-hand account like none other that should be shared with as many people as possible.We walk next to Flynn and his bicycle as he watches the first tower collapse and during his panicked flight from the scene. We wait with him in a parking garage buried in the rubble and take every dust-laden step that carries him away the inferno. Some would likely call Flynn a survivor of the attack. He agrees, but uses a different definition.Survival is not a rapturousrebirth, not a gloriouscloud-bursting return to life.Survival is the absence of death.¿It¿s a middle place¿But it does have an advantageover death. I live to talk about itto relate the tale as it happens,not only its extremities and cruelty,but also the goodness that flourishes too.Although some may believe that poetry isn¿t for everyone, that it eludes a common dominator that popular culture does not, that it is best kept for academia in its ivory towers or elitists secure in the supposition that their reading habits elevate them above the mythical common man, I don¿t agree. At its best, and Flynn meets these challenges ably, poetry makes the intangible tangible. Metaphors and imagery translate the indescribable. When done well, poetry pulls you in, wrapping you in its arms of rhythm, letting meter carry you from one image to the next. It allows the words to take root in your mind and transform back into the indescribable that is now a part of you.Take for example, the cantos dealing with Flynn¿s observations between the planes¿ strike and the towers¿ collapse. We¿ve all seen the news footage and heard the reports of people who jumped from the towers. Flynn saw them as more than a segment on the news.That one, who finally gives up,who leaps from the fiery window,is at peace with her lifeas she contemplates its entirety.Her desk mate, now death mate,recently reconciled with a long lost friend,but still fights with her mother.How will that mother live the rest of her life?In the days and weeks to come, Flynn passes the pictures of the missing, all labeled ¿Have you seen ¿.¿ ¿Yes, I believe I have seen . . . ./I¿ve seen him soaring/I¿ve seen her dropping.¿Flynn devotes a significant part of the poem to his initial shelter in nearby parking garage as he flees the ¿boiling/brimstone avalanche cascading from the tower.¿ There is no light as the dust clouds force a small group further into the garage. Rubble from the tower piles up at the entrance. ¿It is/becoming clear my sanctuary/is to become my tomb,¿ he writes.As the group explores the garage by touch alone, one manages to break a window and the others follow his voice into cool air. ¿I roll through from the hell I did not expect/to escape into a purgatory of lost souls,/I among them,¿ Flynn recounts, adding that his eyes have no need to adjust after leaving the dark garage. No sunlight pierces the dust. Streetlights that turn on too early for the hour are of no use.¿Here, out of the tomb,it is still less than night and less than day.I take in the morning air,a dense and mourning air.The descriptions of sights and sound stay wit
BookishRuth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On September 11, 2001, journalist Thomas Flynn jumped onto his bicycle and rode to Ground Zero to cover the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He would soon find himself caught up in the events of that ¿forever September morning¿, his life ¿ like that of countless others ¿ changed forever.Flynn¿s words paint a vivid picture of the low flying jet, an ominous and incongruous sight as it skimmed the tree tops above him and roared towards its target. His words are equally eidetic as he describes his arrival at Ground Zero, where he sees people jumping from the burning buildings, tumbling like rag dolls to the ground below. The reader, like Thomas, is there for the most intimate moment in the life of a stranger:¿I am witness to this and embarrassed.I am an intruder on the most private moment of her life: her death.¿Flynn also records the surreal visage of the towers engulfed in flames:¿The flaming tower mocks a colossal lighthousebuilt to protect unsuspecting passengersNo, this is not the lady of the harborwho carries a torch of dreamsIt is a barbarian beacon, with no intentionto warn those who see her beams.¿Throughout the poem, the reader bears witness to Flynn¿s struggle to survive, and later, his struggle to come to grips with being a survivor:¿We did not live through it,we just did not die.¿ Bikeman is billed as an epic poem in the style of Dante¿s Inferno. This may sound intimidating to someone who is not a regular poetry reader. However, Flynn¿s style is very approachable and easy to read. It will be enjoyed by both serious poetry students and those who may be unfamiliar (or perhaps a bit uncomfortable) with the genre. At just over seventy pages, Bikeman is a quick read, but a lasting experience. Flynn¿s words and the images that they evoke will stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned. Within the first few minutes of my reading, I found that I was so engrossed in the experience that I was holding my breath. Visceral and hauntingly beautiful, Flynn¿s poetry is an intense and unique insight into one of the darkest days in American history. Bikeman has found a place of honor on my bookshelf, and it is a book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
notenoughbookshelves on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Bikeman - An Epic Poem" by Thomas F. Flynn A heart wrenching eyewitness account of the burning inferno at the Twin Towers attack of September 11th, 2001. A day that sadly sometimes gets pushed aside from our memories as we get overly consumed with our day to day lives. "An Epic Poem", Flynn brings us back to the chaos, grief, and disbelief of that tragic day. Flynn, a journalist was riding his bike to work that day. Hearing the roar of the first plane, and then realizing the severity of the situation after the second plane found it's target. He arrives at work and tells them "I am off to the towers", "Go, Go, Go", Flynn then instinctively points his bike towards the oncoming storm of terror.When he reaches what is now know as Ground Zero the feeling of loss, helplessness, and despair overwhelm him. Temporarily paralyzed by shock and grief, Flynn narrowly escapes his own demise when the first tower fell."We did not live through it, we just did not die". Flynn's "Epic Poem" revisits that tragic day in September with such vivid writing and emotion that it forces you to relive it. A great and memorable book.
lpmejia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical when I received a copy of Thomas Flynn¿s Bikeman to review. An epic poem? About 9/11? The events of that day can certainly be considered epic by any standard, but poetry that seeks to record such an event seems almost¿outdated. I opened the book and flipped around at random, glancing at the page in front of me. This is what I read:They topple out of shattered windows.They soar: two or three at once or four.They fall straight as straws.They do not tumble like a child¿s jacksbut fly straight. The frantic arm waving is over.They fall resigned.The impact of those verses hit me like a brick wall, and stayed in my mind until later that night when I sat down to read the rest of the book. I was impressed.The beauty of poetry lies in its ability to condense emotion and experience into small and powerful packets of verse. There are no spare words ¿ each line is crafted with careful accuracy, cutting with a surgeon¿s precision. The result has something like the impact of visual art ¿ immediate and stunning. Flynn seems to understand that principle, and with his choice of form, has distilled the events of 9/11 into a raw, almost visceral experience. To most of us, that September morning was a series of images, horrifyingly surreal, of tragedy and terror. We watched in unbelief as people jumped to their deaths, and two iconic buildings crashed to the ground as so much rubble. Instead of writing a book that rehashes the facts of that day, Flynn instead revisits the emotions ¿ the anger, helplessness and grief that we felt as a nation.Thomas Flynn is by trade a journalist, and this book makes a point of highlighting that fact. Dan Rather wrote the foreword. His colleagues Diane Sawyer, Harry Smith, and Meredith Vieira, read it and wrote blurbs for the jacket. What this book gives us, however, is not cold, hard journalistic perspective. Instead, what it offers is much, much more. Epic indeed.
eunoia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can be a little picky about poetry, but I thought this was very well done. The phrases and imagery of his verse brings back memories of that terrible day, but in a very personal way. Rather than an outside view of the events you get a glimpse of the madness people went through.
JFBallenger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While this will not likely stand as great poetry, it is a compelling read, A brave and insightful attempt to come to terms with the trauma of the 9-11 attacks.
beatrice_otter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't speak to the quality of the poetry, but it's an interesting and often surreal/dreamlike look at one man's experiences on September Eleventh. It's not about gritty realism and angst; it's about the shock of seeing the world crumbling around you in ways you could not previously imagined. It's not an epic, despite it's grand dramatic subject; it is, instead, more of a tone/emotion piece. I liked it, but the subtitle and introduction were misleading.