What If Your Father is Homeless?

If you’ve heard of this book, it’s hard to forget the title: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. Nick Flynn’s memoir is about his father who eventually became a “homeless person.”

If you’ve read this book, you can’t forget the story. Or Nick’s father. Or Nick. Reading it is a life-changing experience. Amazing book.

Although the style is lyrical, experimental, poetic, the narrative is strong because the storyline packs a punch: Nick works in a homeless shelter and meets his father there. Here’s a sample of the writing style:

Even before he became homeless I’d heard whispers, sensed he was circling close, that we were circling each other, like planets unmoored.

Nick had been living a life very separate from his father. The man was an alcoholic con man, given to grandiose fantasies. He was a convict and maybe brilliant, but he wasn’t tied enough to reality–or to his son. Nick himself went through a period of alcoholic numbness, directionless. But he turned his life around.

The story isn’t told in strict chronological fashion. But through the weaving of memory and “current” events, the reader shares Nick’s intense emotional journey.

The writing is gorgeous, the story is fascinating, and Flynn’s ability to create the “feeling of being rained upon” (E.L. Doctorow quote, see below) is superb.

Nothing like learning from a master.

Throughout the book, we hear that Nick’s father always said he was writing the Great American Novel.  There’s no doubt that Flynn has written one of the Great American Books.  He’s accomplished a lot that his father was unable to do.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.

E. L. Doctorow



Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing

24 responses to “What If Your Father is Homeless?

  1. This memoir seems truly amazing, Luanne. Just added it to my TBR list. 🙂

    • Luanne

      It was recommended to me because I write about my father, and from the title and cover art I thought it was going to be a little too edgy for me, but instead I found something precious.

  2. Oh my, now there’s a title you won’t forget. It sounds good, Luanne…thanks!

  3. Oooh I need to get this one too! I love lyrical writing styles.

  4. Sounds like a good one!

  5. I will definitely add this to my must read list. Thanks, Luanne.

  6. Sounds brilliant!

  7. What an experience it must have been for Nick to come face to face with his father. Sounds like the kind of book I’d like to read. Thanks for posting about it, Luanne

  8. I’m glad I saw your comment about instead of it being too edgy you found it precious – because I had already judged-the-book-by-it’s-cover and decided it probably wasn’t a fit. But how can I resist “precious”??

    • Luanne

      Yes, it didn’t look like a comfy book, and it isn’t, but it’s a yummy book. You see the difference ;)?

  9. It took a lot of courage and inner strength for him to make his life better. I admire this man and am so glad you featured his memoir here. Nick Flynn’s story does sound amazing! Thanks, Luanne for this review. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day with your husband and if your daughters are around, an even better one! Sometimes, distance cannot be bridged over each holiday and if they aren’t there, I know they wish they were! Smiles, Robin

    • I was not sure if you saw my wishes for your Mother’s Day and comments on your review. I am sorry I am usually a ‘day late and a dollar short!’ (Not really!) Smiles, Robin

      • Luanne

        Robin, thanks for coming back over here and commenting. I didn’t realize I had several comments I hadn’t responded to. I think if they pop up on my Blackberry it makes them not show up on my computer and yet I don’t “process” that they are there on the blackberry, if that makes sense. A son and a daughter, not two daughters :). Thank you so much, Robin! I hope yours was really special. I didn’t get to see my son, but I did my daughter, and he called me and sent me a beautiful card with a lovely note in it.

  10. Thanks for your review, Luanne. I had heard about this book and then it went off my radar. Still, very compelling story. Your review makes me want to read it 😉

  11. Another book for the ever growing list TBR! Thank you for sharing this post, Luanne!

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