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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, 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. .


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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, 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. .

30 review for Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Posted at Shelf Inflicted The bold and colorful title and cover caught my eye at the library. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read another depressing memoir about homelessness, but since it took place in Boston, a city I’m quite familiar with, I decided to give it a go. There were some darkly humorous moments, as I’d expected from the title. Overall, this was a poignant, honest, and intense story about Nick Flynn’s relationship with his absent, alcoholic, and delusional father. I learned after I starte Posted at Shelf Inflicted The bold and colorful title and cover caught my eye at the library. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read another depressing memoir about homelessness, but since it took place in Boston, a city I’m quite familiar with, I decided to give it a go. There were some darkly humorous moments, as I’d expected from the title. Overall, this was a poignant, honest, and intense story about Nick Flynn’s relationship with his absent, alcoholic, and delusional father. I learned after I started reading the book that Nick Flynn is a poet. This must explain his writing style, random scenes, and frequent jumping back and forth in time. It took me nearly half the book to warm up to Flynn’s style and start really caring about the characters. There are lots of exquisite and evocative passages and inventive turns of phrase that I know will stay with me long after I return the book to the library, and I wish I could love this story more than I did. I wonder if it was the author’s style that made me feel distanced from the characters and kept me from empathizing with their situation until much later in the story. Still, this unusual memoir is definitely worth reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    another postmodern turd in craptown

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I don't actually think this book is bad at all, but I put it in this section because I couldn't get through it, despite really, really wanting to. In my opinion, this book has the most brilliant title in recent memory, and the cover art is simply gorgeous. I so badly wanted to like it, at least enough to get through it, so I could at least carry it around with me and enjoy its black, green, and yellow loveliness! Sadly, I could not. This probably has less to do with the book itself, which I'm sur I don't actually think this book is bad at all, but I put it in this section because I couldn't get through it, despite really, really wanting to. In my opinion, this book has the most brilliant title in recent memory, and the cover art is simply gorgeous. I so badly wanted to like it, at least enough to get through it, so I could at least carry it around with me and enjoy its black, green, and yellow loveliness! Sadly, I could not. This probably has less to do with the book itself, which I'm sure is fine, and more with having worked in a homeless shelter and thus not being terribly interested in what goes on inside them, nor anything having to do with homeless men, be they drunk, mentally-ill, or somebody's long lost father.... I also have this weird aversion to Boston, so maybe that played into it. I kept coming up with all these weird opinions about the type of guy I imagined the author to be (has sideburns; loves Guinness, crappy bands), and deciding I didn't like him, then realizing these ideas were entirely based on my hateful stereotypes about guys from Boston, and had nothing at all to do with poor Nick Flynn, who I'm sure is a fine fellow with excellent taste in music. Anyway, all these problems sort of combined, and finally I realized that reading this book was causing me more mental anguish than I was willing to put myself through, and I threw up my hands. My unfulfilled yearning for the beautiful cover played a large role in my purchase around that time of _Black Swan Green_, which has some superficially similar elements (it's black and green) but is obviously vastly inferior (I think you might recognize this kind of phenomenon from the world of dating). But what a great title! If you don't already spend forty hours a week focused on homeless people and the various ways they've ruined your life, maybe you should give this one a shot.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    Oh god this book is so incredibly good. One of the endorsements on the back says something like, Finally someone whose life is worthy of a memoir happens to be talented enough to write a good one. Yes, yes! I wish I had come up with that line! *********************************************** Just finished reading this book again. After the disappointing mess of The Frog King, I had to read something I knew was phenomenal, to reaffirm my faith in literature. And oh, thank you, Nick Flynn, I love you Oh god this book is so incredibly good. One of the endorsements on the back says something like, Finally someone whose life is worthy of a memoir happens to be talented enough to write a good one. Yes, yes! I wish I had come up with that line! *********************************************** Just finished reading this book again. After the disappointing mess of The Frog King, I had to read something I knew was phenomenal, to reaffirm my faith in literature. And oh, thank you, Nick Flynn, I love you so. This book is stunning, devastating, perfectly done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Now here goes a book that is creatively non-fiction... If you want to read a book that breaks all the rules, while hearing the survival story of a boy who is abandoned by his mother and homeless father, read this book. No chronology here--in fact the writer abandons form as you may know it--but the writing doesn't need it. Hardcore and straight-forward (as if you can't tell from the title). Not your average book, and this is what makes it a good contemporary read. Now here goes a book that is creatively non-fiction... If you want to read a book that breaks all the rules, while hearing the survival story of a boy who is abandoned by his mother and homeless father, read this book. No chronology here--in fact the writer abandons form as you may know it--but the writing doesn't need it. Hardcore and straight-forward (as if you can't tell from the title). Not your average book, and this is what makes it a good contemporary read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    “Even a life raft is only supposed to get you from the sinking ship back to land, you were never intended to live in the life raft, to drift years on end, in sight of land but never close enough.” This was a reread via audio. The memoir is as good, maybe better, than I remembered, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Scott Brick’s narration. I much prefer the print version and the original title (as ridiculous as it sounds). It just fits better.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Imogen

    Nick Flynn is a poet, and I don't really read poetry. I don't have a criticism of poetry as a whole, obviously- I mean, I might say I do, but if I did that would just be to be provocative and a pain in your ass- it's just hard for me to pay attention in the way you have to pay attention, and to really understand what a poem is doing. We could argue about it, but trust me, it's my problem and it's not resolving. So it was really hard for me to get into this book. Nick Flyyn is a poet, and he writ Nick Flynn is a poet, and I don't really read poetry. I don't have a criticism of poetry as a whole, obviously- I mean, I might say I do, but if I did that would just be to be provocative and a pain in your ass- it's just hard for me to pay attention in the way you have to pay attention, and to really understand what a poem is doing. We could argue about it, but trust me, it's my problem and it's not resolving. So it was really hard for me to get into this book. Nick Flyyn is a poet, and he writes like a poet, choosing the perfect word for what he's saying in a way that doesn't mind tripping up your internal sentence- or paragraph-diagrammer. In a way, in fact, that trips those fuckers up constantly. Right? A way that makes you think about the way he's saying the things he's saying, as well as the things. But by the end I had gotten into it: the Boston, the snow, the despair, the complicated relationship with the semi-delusional father. I mean, it's barely a memoir of Nick Flynn himself, right? There's at least as much about his father as there is about him. And it's beautiful and smart and heartbreaking, sure, like books are supposed to be; I just had to butt heads with it the whole time I was reading it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    I was reluctant to give this five stars--it's not an easy experience. But it's definitely amazing. Don't confuse it with just another quirky family memoir: it has emotionally raw and real things to say about alcoholism, mental illness, heredity, and the homeless. (Each person from the shelter is drawn so distinctively it makes you realize how reductive and dismissive the term "the homeless" really is). I make it sounds harsh and dark--which it is--but there is also a deadpan sense of humor runnin I was reluctant to give this five stars--it's not an easy experience. But it's definitely amazing. Don't confuse it with just another quirky family memoir: it has emotionally raw and real things to say about alcoholism, mental illness, heredity, and the homeless. (Each person from the shelter is drawn so distinctively it makes you realize how reductive and dismissive the term "the homeless" really is). I make it sounds harsh and dark--which it is--but there is also a deadpan sense of humor running through it, eliciting the relieved, nervous laughter you get when you just catch yourself overbalancing on a rickety ladder. Flynn takes a lot of stylistic chances to keep making the story immediate and arresting. Not everything works--for me, the Lear chapter doesn't quite cut it--but so many other chapters ("Ham" and "Cloverleaf" and "Same Again") are just stunning.

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Originally, I read this book in 2008, but it was well worth reading again. This is not your ordinary memoir!

  10. 4 out of 5

    cathy

    The credit for this book’s colorful title goes to Nick Flynn’s dad, the main protagonist in his memoir of coming to know himself through a chance reunion with his father. The story initially focuses on the early parallels between young Flynn and his estranged, alcoholic father. The author then brings us to a Boston homeless shelter where he held a minimum-wage job for 5 years after living alone on a houseboat near Boston Harbor. Father and son’s lives fatefully intersect in the shelter when his The credit for this book’s colorful title goes to Nick Flynn’s dad, the main protagonist in his memoir of coming to know himself through a chance reunion with his father. The story initially focuses on the early parallels between young Flynn and his estranged, alcoholic father. The author then brings us to a Boston homeless shelter where he held a minimum-wage job for 5 years after living alone on a houseboat near Boston Harbor. Father and son’s lives fatefully intersect in the shelter when his dad becomes a regular, but highly-volatile, unwelcome guest. As a Boston native, I appreciated Flynn’s wry surveying of the City during his nightly voyages in the homeless shelter van. He was usually successful rounding up the deinstitutionalized and others made homeless by chance or by choice; however, he was often unable to corral his own father, that is, when he didn’t purposely avoid his usual haunts. Flynn’s dad burned all personal and professional bridges long before he wound up on the streets, and it seems all he has left is his ego, buttressed by grandiose notions about his skill as a writer. He talks ad nauseam (to the reader’s amusement) about his great semi-autobiographical novel that has gone unrecognized (this tome may or may not have ever been completed). As proof someone was interested in this work, he frames “personal” notes (form rejection letters) he received from publishing houses. Flynn is first a poet, and you see his skill as he deftly crafts lyrical passages about their shared mental illness and sometimes self-destructive streak of eschewing convention—and help when needed. For good or bad, they are both self-made men who have a talent for storytelling. You get the sense that Nick’s book serves to tell his own story, but also that of Flynn Sr., who never had the discipline or courage to get it down himself.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    With a style vaguely reminiscent of the Beat generation novels, Flynn tells a story that's purely his to tell. +10 points for referencing many Boston locations I'm familiar with, including the Pine Street Inn, one of the largest homeless shelters (and now, long-term housing providers) in the area. With a style vaguely reminiscent of the Beat generation novels, Flynn tells a story that's purely his to tell. +10 points for referencing many Boston locations I'm familiar with, including the Pine Street Inn, one of the largest homeless shelters (and now, long-term housing providers) in the area.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam Floridia

    The verdict: Strong 3-3.5 stars. I saw the movie first (Being Flynn) before even knowing it was based on a book. The movie was fair, yet I'm glad that the book is very different. Whereas the movie focuses nearly entirely on Nick's relationship with his father once dad shows up at the homeless shelter, that is only a small part of the book. In that sense, the structure of the book is akin to Moby-Dick. "In Moby-Dick, the eponymous whale doesn't appear until the last fifty pages. The story of the w The verdict: Strong 3-3.5 stars. I saw the movie first (Being Flynn) before even knowing it was based on a book. The movie was fair, yet I'm glad that the book is very different. Whereas the movie focuses nearly entirely on Nick's relationship with his father once dad shows up at the homeless shelter, that is only a small part of the book. In that sense, the structure of the book is akin to Moby-Dick. "In Moby-Dick, the eponymous whale doesn't appear until the last fifty pages. The story of the whale appears earlier, but the actual whale only breaks the surface for a moment at ht end, just long enough to pull Ahab under. The whole book is about the whale that isn't there" (345). As the quotation marks indicate, that isn't my clever interpretation; it's the author's own in his final "Q+A" section at the end. The chapters are very short and the writing borders on poetic, which makes sense since Nick did his graduate work in poetry (and has published poetry). All in all it's an interesting story that is well told. I really wanted to say more good things about it since I "liked" and almost "really liked it," but right now I just can't find the words. Instead, I'll jump to a few things that bothered me, even if only ever-so-slightly. I actually think this complaint is going to sound stupid, but here goes. This is a memoir, right? (Yes.) While Nick does talk about his childhood to adulthood, every single aspect of every moment relates to his father. Yes, I get it, his dad is his absent white whale and his biggest fear seems to be that "[he/Nick] would become him, the line between [them] would blur" (11). In that sense, this becomes almost more a biography of his dad than an autobiography. And all that's still fine--I don't care what genre the book falls into--and Nick even basically acknowledges as much at the end. And of course in a memoir the author's going to have to be selective with what he includes. And the fact that Nick arranged those selections around the theme of the absent/drunken/homeless father really works well! Still, there are some things that he leaves out that just irked me, again, ever-so-slighlty. For example, how did he actually get to be where he is? From his own description, he was a complete waste as a teenager (petty crimes and stoned all the time), so how did he get into Amherst? (He claims that not only did he not remember applying, but that he was shocked to be in the top 10% of his class.) Maybe I'm naive about the cost of flying to and living in (even if out of a backpack) Europe, but how does he have the money to suddenly up and leave? Just like deciding to go back to college and then to get a graduate degree in poetry is mentioned in one throw-away line, we get "After considerable struggle I managed to get the boat on land, then I flew to Amsterdam to meet Emily, who'd been traveling Europe for a couple months already" (180). Hell, if I ever write a memoir, my European travels will be big events in my life, as will the decision and work to earn advanced degrees. But this isn't my memoir--and I think that is exactly where the problem lies. I can't relate to being able to (ie: having the courage to) drop everything and fly to Europe on a whim. I can't relate to suddenly publishing a book. Maybe it's jealousy--I chose to do things the "right" way: good grades, good college, advanced degree, good job, good pension--and I haven't accomplished my ultimate dream of publishing a novel. Nick Flynn portrays himself as nothing but a waste, yet here is his novel. Of course, I haven't devoted the time (not that I have the skill) to actually being disciplined enough to sit down and write the great American novel. I'm not sure that his adding a bunch of chapters about his discipline and tenacity during the writing process would make the book any better, for it would almost certainly make it worse. Maybe then I wouldn't be ever-so-slightly bothered/jealous, though. A Favorite Quotation: "There are many ways to drown, only the most obvious wave their arms when they're going under" (327).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I spent a lot of time while reading this wondering who I know that will be resigned to a fate similar to that of the father in these memoirs. Who will wind up past the prime of their life having talked for years of what they will accomplish and have really accomplished nothing? I can unfortunately name a decent sized handful of people who run this risk at this point in their lives. Closer to thirty than to twenty, and wasting months of their lives on drinking binges, babbling about their potenti I spent a lot of time while reading this wondering who I know that will be resigned to a fate similar to that of the father in these memoirs. Who will wind up past the prime of their life having talked for years of what they will accomplish and have really accomplished nothing? I can unfortunately name a decent sized handful of people who run this risk at this point in their lives. Closer to thirty than to twenty, and wasting months of their lives on drinking binges, babbling about their potential, but not wanting to do anything besides their current lifestyle. Of course, they hide their virtual uselessness by making (not especially good) music. And I'm a big fan of music, and realize that in order to make anything good you will probably make a lot of stuff that isn't. However, to pin all your hopes for your future on making it big in music just isn't that realistic. Even less so now that the music business has been in recession for longer than the rest of the nation can boast. I wish there were anything to be said about it that wouldn't be taken as annoying nagging, but these people will run the course of their lives however they see fit, regardless of what is good for them or what they're capable of. It's relatively foreign to me, having been raised to believe that anything you get in life should be something you have earned, and that if you didn't earn it, you probably don't deserve it. I believe life is all about working hard. Not that I've been doing much of it myself lately, but being in this position has only made me realize just how much it's not the life for me. My self worth is at an all-time low, and with where I stand on such things it damn well should be. Luckily, I will be starting to go full-time to school in about a month, and that should be repairing to my self image and mindset. Anyway, it's funny that the setting for these memoirs is Massachusetts, because it only drove the point home for me about the failings of the lifestyle, having grown up on the Cape. I know there are people everywhere that wind up on the streets, finally running out of people to use and possessions to hock. But I keep seeing people from back home confining themselves to the slacker, constantly partying social life. I feel that Cape Cod is a destructive place to live, and I'm beginning to wonder if there's something about the whole state. Or maybe even the coastal areas of New England. I doubt that is in fact the case, but wouldn't it be odd if somehow the places that birthed out nation are beginning to be left behind in disgust? Anyway, back to the matter of the book, it was definitely interesting, sometimes almost painful, and altogether hard for me to put down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Lam

    Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City tells the story of himself as a confused young adult who struggles to avoid following his long lost father’s footsteps to homelessness and misery. The book is set at Situate, Massachusetts, also known as “Suck City”, to the city of Boston around the time of 1960’s to 1990’s, when Nick’s father, Jonathan Flynn, was a young adult to present time when Nick, himself, is a young adult. Trying his best to avoid becoming the “town’s drunk” and failure j Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City tells the story of himself as a confused young adult who struggles to avoid following his long lost father’s footsteps to homelessness and misery. The book is set at Situate, Massachusetts, also known as “Suck City”, to the city of Boston around the time of 1960’s to 1990’s, when Nick’s father, Jonathan Flynn, was a young adult to present time when Nick, himself, is a young adult. Trying his best to avoid becoming the “town’s drunk” and failure just like his father was, Nick eventually accepted the fact that his fate of ending up like his father was inevitable after a series of events and the parallelism between him and his father’s lives. Nick reflects on all the stories he had heard about his father, an inconsiderate bigot who gives himself too much credibility for his writing and criminal deeds, and became even more agitated and afraid of his “destined future”. This book addresses the realistic hardships of individuals of their family relationships, which can essentially shape the person they become and how their future will unveil. The chapter that stood out to me the most was “Two Hundred Years Ago”, which plays a significant role in this book by foreshadowing how Nick Flynn will eventually become a broke drunkard like his father and also exemplifies the main point of this whole memoir. In this chapter, Nick indicated that if the setting of his book was changed to two hundred years ago, his father’s reputation would become a huge aspect to his own life due to the fact that the people around him will view him the same way like they view his father. Nick said, “ They would say to themselves, or to whomever they were with, ”It’s his father, you know, the crazy one, the drunk,” and they couldn’t help but wonder what part of his madness had passed on to you,” suggesting that personality traits can be passed on to descendants as if it were genes. It was because of this chapter that I began to feel sympathetic towards Nick Flynn, as I start to understand how difficult it must have been to have an alcoholic as a father who had abandoned you while you were young. I’ve developed an emotional connection with this intriguing book as the years and years of Nick’s life pass by as I turn page after page, seeing how Nick grew and matured as his anger and confusion built on when he learns more and more about how terrible of a man his father was. Because of Nick’s impassiveness while telling such a depressing story, I felt like I experienced his feelings of anguish and frustration for him without him describing it. Looking through the eyes of Nick Flynn, I felt his shock when his mother committed suicide while he was having fun at college, his annoyance of Jonathan Flynn’s conceited attitude and how irrelevant and uncivilized he is, and his torment of what seems to be endless internal conflicts. There were numerous things that I have learned from this nonfiction book such as how a homeless shelter operates to the difficulties of finding a job that barely makes enough money for a poor living. Regarding to life morals, from this book, I've grasped the deeper outlook on family, irony, and frustration. It seems to me that no matter how horrible or irritating family may be, everything will always fall back together which is depicted by how Nick’s mother and brother did care for him throughout all the “bullshit” they have been through and the connection between Nick and his father does, indeed, exist no matter how many years they have spent apart. The irony of it all is how much Nick tried to avoid his father, only to coincidentally meet him as a resident of a homeless shelter where he works. It amazes me how Nick can cope with all the issues that would drive him insane, yet he hardly self-pities himself and keeps moving forward. Ultimately, the story of Nick Flynn and Jonathan Flynn is a story of overcoming their difficult relationship, struggling through harsh times with poverty and alcohol, and accepting each other’s past and moving on. It all adds up to a tale of teenage rebellion, family hardships, and arrogance. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City tells us that story very well, reminding us that each and every individual has traveled down the wrong path at least once in their life, only to realize that they screwed up and need to get back on track. I highly recommend Another Bullshit Night In Suck City because it allows readers to gain a new perspective by living through Nick Flynn’s constant issues with his father, money, and his own self. Having to encounter ten different men your mother dated and married throughout your life without ever meeting your real biological father to almost bleeding to death due to drunk driving on a motorcycle to having your mother commit suicide to having everyone shame you because of your violent, uncooperative father who happens to be at an unwelcomed resident at a homeless shelter that you’re working at is just the gist of the experience I have had while reading through Nick’s memoir. I became more hooked as the story progresses with Nick’s struggles and the drug abuse, alcoholism, and life-changing mistakes makes everything even more intense and fascinating. Not only is it interesting to read, but the story also reveals the lessons learned along the way, one of them being how Nick eventually accepted Jonathan Flynn for who he is, despite his arrogance and criminal record. In addition, I think this book would be a great start for readers who usually favor novels in the fiction genre and are hesitant to try nonfiction books. Although this book may be non-fiction, the style is very much similar to that of young adult fiction so it is fairly easy to comprehend, and it is even better knowing that such a tale happened in real life!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    To love books about addiction and troubled parents is the inheritance my mother passed on to me. I guess that’s something. As Flynn reminds us, there isn’t any shortage of people who prefer substances to their loved ones. How the loved ones of addicts choose to deal with and make peace with their addicted father, or sister, or mother, or girlfriend, or whatever is as personal as a jawline. It’s formed and gritted individually through experience. We keep chewing the insides of our mouths as we wo To love books about addiction and troubled parents is the inheritance my mother passed on to me. I guess that’s something. As Flynn reminds us, there isn’t any shortage of people who prefer substances to their loved ones. How the loved ones of addicts choose to deal with and make peace with their addicted father, or sister, or mother, or girlfriend, or whatever is as personal as a jawline. It’s formed and gritted individually through experience. We keep chewing the insides of our mouths as we wonder what will happen to the people we care about as they enjoy their slow immolation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Abe Brennan

    Nick Flynn’s pathos-packed memoir is part coming-of-age story and part counter-culture-chronicle, part mental-illness menagerie and part generational-reconciliation-project. His poetic past serves him well, manifesting in image shards and lingual leaps that strike chords that vibrate in a reader long after she puts down the book. Like life, there is no tidy resolution to this story, no miraculous recovery for his addled dad—as the narrator ages and matures, he’s just able to manage better and ta Nick Flynn’s pathos-packed memoir is part coming-of-age story and part counter-culture-chronicle, part mental-illness menagerie and part generational-reconciliation-project. His poetic past serves him well, manifesting in image shards and lingual leaps that strike chords that vibrate in a reader long after she puts down the book. Like life, there is no tidy resolution to this story, no miraculous recovery for his addled dad—as the narrator ages and matures, he’s just able to manage better and take a legitimate stab at accepting the unacceptable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I first fell in love with this book as a college Junior in my first Contemporary American Literature course. I loved its nonlinear structure, experimentation with mixing genres and poetic allusions. I now return to it about once a year, particularly when I'm struggling with my own alcoholic and perpetually absent father, as a kind of sense-maker for my own world. I first fell in love with this book as a college Junior in my first Contemporary American Literature course. I loved its nonlinear structure, experimentation with mixing genres and poetic allusions. I now return to it about once a year, particularly when I'm struggling with my own alcoholic and perpetually absent father, as a kind of sense-maker for my own world.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    A book this honest could easily be taken as bleak and depressing, but Flynn weaves the story of his relationship with his father with the look towards redemption and hope that make this an amazing memoir.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    A darkly humorous and poignant memoir, though I know that is not at all how Nick Flynn would describe it himself. Flynn has a voice all his own that elevates this honest, somewhat tragic story with levity and blunt truth. The guy has style, it's of the frayed and utilitarian variety, but it is uniquely his and it makes for a golly-gosh-darn-good read (again not how Flynn would put it). This is not a memoir with a purpose beyond telling the story, beyond exploring one's truth as they have seen it, A darkly humorous and poignant memoir, though I know that is not at all how Nick Flynn would describe it himself. Flynn has a voice all his own that elevates this honest, somewhat tragic story with levity and blunt truth. The guy has style, it's of the frayed and utilitarian variety, but it is uniquely his and it makes for a golly-gosh-darn-good read (again not how Flynn would put it). This is not a memoir with a purpose beyond telling the story, beyond exploring one's truth as they have seen it, experienced it, learned it to be. It is probably an exploration of part of Flynn's life, in the context of his father, in order to better understand it and perhaps accept it for what it was/is. Do I think any given reader could take something of value from this memoir? Absolutely. Do I think it will be the same for every reader? Undoubtedly, no. There is depth, and humanity, and complexity within these pages, but it's not fully explored (or should I say explained?) - the relationships and events are laid out, make of it what you will. This is a memoir that touches on homelessness, fatherlessness, pointlessness, and worthlessness, don't forget alcoholism, depression, and self-medicating - or perhaps it should be said that it is the reality of some of these and the perception of all. It is not always pretty, but it never feels hopeless. The writing style felt disconnected to start, but quickly comes together with it's bite-sized piece chapters and a structure that, get this, was modeled after Moby Dick! That will actually make some sense by the time you finish the book - so, go on, get to it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    At first I didn't like this book, but as it went on, it got better/more engaging, which I think says a lot about its overall quality. For the first couple hundred pages I was annoyed by the tone. The humor was a bit off. Things that were intrinsically hilarious (though horrifying) were given a bit of humor but then too quickly turned around by pathos, even melodrama. Also, Flynn creates long, long passages of abstracted language, which isn't my thing, and there are enough comma splices here to m At first I didn't like this book, but as it went on, it got better/more engaging, which I think says a lot about its overall quality. For the first couple hundred pages I was annoyed by the tone. The humor was a bit off. Things that were intrinsically hilarious (though horrifying) were given a bit of humor but then too quickly turned around by pathos, even melodrama. Also, Flynn creates long, long passages of abstracted language, which isn't my thing, and there are enough comma splices here to make any writing instructor's hair stand on end for weeks. I almost couldn't get past it -- I almost quit. But the book is also breezy and shorter than it appears, and I also have a problem re: not wanting to leave books half-read. In this case my obstinacy paid off. At the very end, Flynn compares the book's structure to Moby Dick, with much of the book being about the quest to find his father (the whale) and the whale-meeting part being the very end. I'd wanted the book to really "get started" earlier, but when it did, I realized that all that other stuff was preparatory, necessary. The last fifty pages are a beautiful, compelling, vivid, compassionate rendering of Flynn's relationship with his father, who is a delusional alcoholic. I only wish the pay off could have come sooner.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    So this book is kind of like Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel except that 1) it is relatively contemporary; 2) it is about Boston; and 3) it is autobiographical. Which is to say that, on the outside, it is nothing like Up in the Old Hotel. Except that it is what I call a "mood" book that gets you in the Boston "mood" - like, more a tableau than a novel. Yeah, you like that I wrote "tableau" didn't you? I was trying to fit the term "geist" in but I am too lazy to think up a sentence for it, So this book is kind of like Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel except that 1) it is relatively contemporary; 2) it is about Boston; and 3) it is autobiographical. Which is to say that, on the outside, it is nothing like Up in the Old Hotel. Except that it is what I call a "mood" book that gets you in the Boston "mood" - like, more a tableau than a novel. Yeah, you like that I wrote "tableau" didn't you? I was trying to fit the term "geist" in but I am too lazy to think up a sentence for it, other than, maybe, "this book gets you a feel for the 'geist' of Boston-and-vicinity." It's about a guy that works in a homeless shelter and meets his dad there, who happens to be a client. Also about how white folks can also be "straight ghetto" in the derogatory, stereotypical sense. See also, All Souls and The Departed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine Fay

    This book is a memoir by a guy who did not have a relationship with his father until he met him serendipitously at a homeless shelter where Nick worked. Flynn’s writing sometimes waxes poetic with his small anecdotes about growing up without a dad, and the trouble that he often found himself in. The Patty Hearst Story and Creature Double Feature are familiar events to my childhood as well, which makes for a nostalgic moment. This was made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro and Julianne Moore; i This book is a memoir by a guy who did not have a relationship with his father until he met him serendipitously at a homeless shelter where Nick worked. Flynn’s writing sometimes waxes poetic with his small anecdotes about growing up without a dad, and the trouble that he often found himself in. The Patty Hearst Story and Creature Double Feature are familiar events to my childhood as well, which makes for a nostalgic moment. This was made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro and Julianne Moore; it is entitled Being Flynn because apparently the memoir's title is somewhat offensive. By the way, Nick Flynn is from Scituate and one of our former staff members used to hang out with Flynn and his wife in Provincetown.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andy Weston

    Rare for me to read a memoir, and especially one that isn't sport related, but Nick Flynn's book was recommended on a couple of the blogs I follow, though published in 2005. A large part of the book deals with his relationship with his father who despite having been successful in his earlier life becomes homeless, is heavily involved in drugs and alcohol and spends some time in jail. Flynn therefore becomes more aware than the average person of the problem of homelessness and works in Boston's f Rare for me to read a memoir, and especially one that isn't sport related, but Nick Flynn's book was recommended on a couple of the blogs I follow, though published in 2005. A large part of the book deals with his relationship with his father who despite having been successful in his earlier life becomes homeless, is heavily involved in drugs and alcohol and spends some time in jail. Flynn therefore becomes more aware than the average person of the problem of homelessness and works in Boston's first Hostel for such people. The first two thirds of the book are quite readable and enlightening about seedy Boston life in the 70s and 80s, and what it's like to live on the streets or indeed in a Hostel. But as Flynn's own life becomes more and more involved with drugs it's gets less interesting and failed to hold my attention.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    This book was so sad. As my husband would say, such a waste of potential. This book also hits close to home for me. How each family member reacts to their upbringing is so interesting. Some seem to adjust just fine, go through the steps of life, doing what is “expected” of them. Others, like Mr. Flynn are angry and self destructive. The one positive thing that I can say is that Mr. Flynn’s writing is most certainly cathartic. I’m so glad that he has found success in this. For the rest of his lif This book was so sad. As my husband would say, such a waste of potential. This book also hits close to home for me. How each family member reacts to their upbringing is so interesting. Some seem to adjust just fine, go through the steps of life, doing what is “expected” of them. Others, like Mr. Flynn are angry and self destructive. The one positive thing that I can say is that Mr. Flynn’s writing is most certainly cathartic. I’m so glad that he has found success in this. For the rest of his life, I wish him luck.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Colin McKay Miller

    Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City may have a juvenile title, but it’s still the best memoir I ever read. Most memoirs fall into two categories: 1) Sentimental, heartstring reads that tug the rig with hardships, terminal diseases, and enduring tales of lovers/family/friendship (regardless of how messed up they are); or 2) sensationalized hard knock tales of crime (and possibly redemption). Nick Flynn’s first memoir doesn’t go either of those routes. It’s cool, slightly detached, a Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City may have a juvenile title, but it’s still the best memoir I ever read. Most memoirs fall into two categories: 1) Sentimental, heartstring reads that tug the rig with hardships, terminal diseases, and enduring tales of lovers/family/friendship (regardless of how messed up they are); or 2) sensationalized hard knock tales of crime (and possibly redemption). Nick Flynn’s first memoir doesn’t go either of those routes. It’s cool, slightly detached, a bare murmur of heartfelt. It sounds like how you’d describe your life if you didn’t know you were writing a memoir. In the late-eighties, Flynn reunited with his estranged father, Jonathan. They are not reunited on some TV show with slow motion reaction shots. There are no tears, no hugs; just Nick’s realization that the father who left when he was a year old is an alcoholic resident at the homeless shelter where he works. There is no miracle ending; there is no great progression in their relationship. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (how Jonathan describes homeless life in Boston) is just a splice of scenes—some good, some bad, most everyday tales that could come from anyone—of a family relationship that never had any glue (especially not with Nick’s mother committing suicide when he was 22). It’s a pity it has been so long since I read it, because there were so many nuances I enjoyed, and I still think Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is the best example of Flynn’s calming, poetic voice. Four stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    In Flynn’s 2004 memoir, in which he details his relationship and history with his father, he keeps the reader solidly grounded in time and place by the use of several devices, including switching verb tense, point of view, and adding dates at the beginning of chapters, or in letter and log excerpts. Flynn sets the stage in the first chapter, when he describes his homeless father’s efforts to use an ATM booth for shelter at night, by leading with the date, "(1989)." Flynn can toss the reader from In Flynn’s 2004 memoir, in which he details his relationship and history with his father, he keeps the reader solidly grounded in time and place by the use of several devices, including switching verb tense, point of view, and adding dates at the beginning of chapters, or in letter and log excerpts. Flynn sets the stage in the first chapter, when he describes his homeless father’s efforts to use an ATM booth for shelter at night, by leading with the date, "(1989)." Flynn can toss the reader from the present to the future without a moment’s notice. And it is this quick maneuvering that helps the reader remain tethered to place and time. Flynn’s use of temporal devices helps the reader experience the events as they unfold, unfolded, or will unfold. He switches tense and point of view with ease and always takes the reader right along with him. He has created a stable narrative with plenty of movement. As he layers time upon time, event upon event, he pushes the truth at the reader in a manner the reader cannot avoid. This is a significant memoir, an exceptional read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Durrant

    Nick Flynn's unflinching and unsentimental account of his largely absent and totally pathetic father and of his own work in a Boston homeless shelter raises many questions. Chief among these, at least to this reader, is what we owe, if anything, to another human being with whom we happen to have a direct genetic relationship--in this case, a father? I confess to going back and forth between two poles as I read Flynn's disturbing memoir. At one pole, a voice was saying, "He's your Dad, dammit. Tr Nick Flynn's unflinching and unsentimental account of his largely absent and totally pathetic father and of his own work in a Boston homeless shelter raises many questions. Chief among these, at least to this reader, is what we owe, if anything, to another human being with whom we happen to have a direct genetic relationship--in this case, a father? I confess to going back and forth between two poles as I read Flynn's disturbing memoir. At one pole, a voice was saying, "He's your Dad, dammit. Try a bit harder to help the guy." At the other pole an equally strong voice countered, "The guy is a delusional jerk--stay as far away as you can." In the end, I think, Flynn handled the situation about as well as he could, after overcoming, or at least confronting, his own terrible problems with alcohol and drugs. This is a powerful book, and Flynn writes with great skill. At times, however, I did feel that his writing became just a bit too clever--as in the chapter "Santa Leer," to give one example.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I'm not sure why people are considering this a "post-modern" book. It is not a book that plays games with language or with the reader. This book is a very felt, lyrical act of imagination on the part of the writer to try to understand his parents' alcoholism and mental illness. He calls himself his father's "uncredited, noncompliant ghostwriter," and I think he means that fully sincerely. Much of the book is not about Nick Flynn at all (even though this book is subtitled, "a memoir,"), but is an I'm not sure why people are considering this a "post-modern" book. It is not a book that plays games with language or with the reader. This book is a very felt, lyrical act of imagination on the part of the writer to try to understand his parents' alcoholism and mental illness. He calls himself his father's "uncredited, noncompliant ghostwriter," and I think he means that fully sincerely. Much of the book is not about Nick Flynn at all (even though this book is subtitled, "a memoir,"), but is an attempt to imaginatively inhabit the world of his homeless father. It's a brave book, like Cheryl Strayed's Wild in its unflinching and persistent exposure of the self, of truths about the self most of us would prefer to not to drag into the light.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    It's as good as everyone says it is. I like his ability to write pretty straight-forward passages and then do some weird poetic tangents. It's as good as everyone says it is. I like his ability to write pretty straight-forward passages and then do some weird poetic tangents.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zoom

    Nick Flynn is a talented writer, and has written an outstanding memoir about his relationship with his father, Jonathan, who is a down-and-out self-absorbed alcoholic with delusions of grandeur. Nick has his own issues, which are interesting too: his mother's suicide, his father's absence, drugs, sorrow. Throughout most of Nick's life, Jonathan was defined by his absence. But eventually Nick grows up and spends years working at a homeless shelter, which is where he and Jonathan cross paths. Init Nick Flynn is a talented writer, and has written an outstanding memoir about his relationship with his father, Jonathan, who is a down-and-out self-absorbed alcoholic with delusions of grandeur. Nick has his own issues, which are interesting too: his mother's suicide, his father's absence, drugs, sorrow. Throughout most of Nick's life, Jonathan was defined by his absence. But eventually Nick grows up and spends years working at a homeless shelter, which is where he and Jonathan cross paths. Initially Nick keeps Jonathan at arm's length, but eventually he starts seeking him out in an effort to know him. He plans his visits by the time of the month, based on the welfare cheque cycle...no point visiting when Jonathan can afford to be completely obliterated, because he will be. Nick has no illusions about his father. He's not hoping for anything, like sobriety or love. A father like that could provide a never-ending supply of disappointment if one were to pin one's hopes on him. At least he got a book out of it. A very good book. This memoir avoids falling into the "Poor me" trap that plagues so many memoirs about dysfunctional families. It's believable, interesting, and not at all maudlin.

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