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The Reenactments: A Memoirby Nick Flynn
As with Nick Flynn's other major prose works, The Reenactments is a compelling, vignette-style memoir. Flynn's 2004 Another Bullshit Night in Suck City was adapted into a film (Being Flynn) earlier this year, starring Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano as the young poet. The Reenactments recounts Flynn's time spent on set during production, where he engaged with the actors and witnessed the dramatized retelling of two of his life's most consequential events (meeting his father at a homeless shelter and the suicide of his mother). Interspersed throughout the work are Flynn's meditative musings on memory, sorrow, and struggle, inspired by literary, scientific, and philosophical asides. The Reenactments, like much of Flynn's autobiographical writing, is noteworthy for its insights on tenderness, tragedy, and the ways in which suffering often leads to greater awareness of the other. Flynn's writing, per usual, is beautifully composed and achingly honest.
The urn that holds the ashes might be hand-carved, but the ash will always turn to paste in your throat.
Recommended by Jeremy, Powell's City of Books
Synopses & Reviews
For Nick Flynn, that game we all play — the who-would-play-you-in-the-movie-of-your-life game — has been answered. The Reenactments is the story of adapting Flynn’s memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, into a film called Being Flynn. It is also a searing meditation on consciousness, representation, and grief. Flynn describes the surreal experience of being on set during the reenactments of the central events of his life: his father’s long run of homelessness and the suicide of his mother. He tells the story of Robert De Niro’s first meeting with his father in Boston and of watching Julianne Moore attempt to throw herself into the sea. Expanding on the themes raised by these reenactments, Flynn weaves in meditations on the enigmatic Glass Flowers exhibition at Harvard University, alongside Ramachandran’s experiments with sufferers of phantom limb syndrome, to create a compelling argument about the eternal nature of grief.
"Eloquent, precise, intense and profoundly moving, The Reenactments is a powerful and beautiful story about grief, survival, and making art." Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
"Some words we associate with good memoirs. ("Moving;" "brave.") And there are some — even with the best memoirs — we just don't. ("Intellectually challenging;" "formally adventurous.") Nick Flynn's The Reenactments is all these things, it is sui generis, it will make you cry. I read this book in a very short time. I won't stop thinking about it for a very long time." Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life
"Maybe only poets should be allowed to write memoirs, because they know that our perception is partial, our recollection is worse, and the world is made of shards and fragments that make patterns, but leave gaps and sharp edges. Nick Flynn's excellent new memoir embraces the unknown and unknowable as the very core of our experience." Rebecca Solnit, author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost
"Flynn's determination to better understand his life through the act of writing and remembering has yielded a truly insightful, original work." Kirkus Reviews
A literary tour de force about the making of a film and representation from a master of the memoir form.
About 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, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York.
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