Callan, June 19, 2007 (view all comments by Callan)
Nick Flynn's memoir reveals itself as a coming of age, a sharp view of pain, a shadow of a city and manhood in a certain time and place, and the reader's own painful search for the self, with compassion and subtlety.
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jessica.wakeman, October 27, 2006 (view all comments by jessica.wakeman)
Writers should read this book to learn about voice. Does Nick Flynn have one! He's deep, reflective, sardonic, and biting all at once. How he wrote a memoir about his father's homelessness and mental illness (don't worry, I'm not spoiling anything), among other problems, without being drippy or self-indulgent, I don't know. This book deserves every award and panting review that it received.
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Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir
0 stars -
W. W. Norton & Company -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Readers of memoirists Frank Conroy and Tobias Wolff will relish Flynn's pungent account of two rudderless souls who navigate their way back into each other's lives."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"The voice here is boiled just right: tough, articulate, mindful, without self-pity."
by Library Journal,
"[L]ikely one of the best books you will read in 2004....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."
by Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours,
"Nick Flynn's devastating memoir does what only significant works of art can do — it shows us a world we know, but fail to see or understand. No one who reads Another Bullshit Night in Suck City will ever walk through a city in the same way again. If I say that Flynn's book ranks with Frank Conroy's Stop-Time, I mean it as the highest possible praise."
by Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River,
"What a piece of work. I don't usually like memoirs, but if they were all like Nick Flynn's Another Bullshit Night in Suck City — eloquent, funny, unsentimental, and bravely inventive — I'd read them by the truckload."
by Mark Doty, author of Firebird,
"Nick Flynn has given us one of the most terrifying families in American letters, though he approaches each character in this ferocious, inventive memoir with an almost radical sense of compassion, as if all that any of us could do were to stumble ahead with the burdens we're given. The result is a book so singular, harrowing and loving as to be indelible."
by Chris Offutt, author of The Strange River Twice and Kentucky Straight,
"My favorite book of the past few years, and the best memoir since Stop-Time, This Boy's Life, and The Liar's Club."
by Brad Land, author of Goat,
"Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is a wonder, both sweet and agonizing, a fusion of the lyric and the well-wrought story. Nick Flynn finds, through the assemblage, piece by piece, of his own break neck life and father, what all of us must see; our fathers (living, dead, mercurial, solid, never glimpsed) are amazing and wretched; they are genius; they are filthy and naked; they are gut drunk beautiful. This book, in both story and language, shatters convention with every word, and Flynn makes that destruction flawless."
by A. M. Homes, author of Music for Torching,
"Another Bullshit Night... is one of the best books I've read in years — a heartbreaking searing story — the perfect memoir. Nick Flynn hurls himself towards the blunt trauma of history, towards 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. In the end it is about family, about fathers and sons and how painful it is to know the depth of that relation at its fullest."
by Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking,
"Flynn gets the details of the family down cold — egomaniacs with inferiority complexes, forever burning the bridges in front of themselves, cursed with a thirst for which enough is never enough. Gorgeously wrought."
by Vendela Vida, The New York Times Book Review,
"Ultimately, this book is an artful meditation on how we decide how much we are limited — or enhanced by — what we inherit, and on how difficult it is to give and receive care in this world."
"Devastating....Ranks with Frank Conroy's ."--Michael Cunningham
"Sometimes I'd see my father, walking past my building on his way to another nowhere. I could have given him a key, offered a piece of my floor. But if I let him inside the line between us would blur, my own slow-motion car wreck would speed up." Nick Flynn met his father for the third time 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, a self-proclaimed poet and con man doing time in federal prison for bank robbery. Nick, his own life precariously unsettled, was living alternately in a ramshackle boat and in a warehouse that was once a strip joint. In bold, dazzling prose, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (a phrase Flynn senior uses to describe his life on the streets) tells the story of two lives and the trajectory that led Nick and his father into that homeless shelter, onto those streets, and finally to each other.
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