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