Friday, February 3, 2012

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City AKA Being Flynn: About the book by Nick Flynn

I've just finished Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn. It was a difficult book; and hard not to wonder how Flynn survived his 'upbringing'. Such as it was.
The film version, Being Flynn, comes out in March and the book is being re-released as Being Flynn.
I imagine Another Bullshit Night in Suck City would be tough to put on a marquis, I've seen plenty of internet mentions of the book where they clean up the title.
What you can't do is clean up the lives that the book is based on.
Some people have clean, organized, orderly lives, successful and happy lives.  Jonathan Flynn's life is not one of them.

Flynn, the father is basically a fuck-up, an achoholic with grandiose visions of himself as America's greatest living writer. In truth, the book he has been working on for almost all his adult life is a gathering of notes and scraps, possible beginnings which dwindle down into nothingness. And yet it is the one constant which sees him in and out of prison, in and out of homeless shelters, in and out of his own life.

I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Flynn to see his father - which he did only on a couple of occasions while he was growing up - in this condition. But he heard about him and received letters from him over the years. He knew he lived on park benches,that he pretended to have business at an ATM so he could stay in the warmth of the lobby, wrapped himself in plastic bags to keep out the cold and damp. It must have been incredibly painful as well as shameful. He talks about not helping his father for fear of spiralling down in the same direction. Reading about his father, it's easy to see how he could suck the life right out of you.



Flynn, the son, barely escapes the sins of the father. He drinks, does drugs. His mother, also an alchoholic, after leaving Jonathan and taking Nick and his brother Tad, goes through a string of men and seems mostly to be barely in the picture. Flynn says she works at various night clubs and restaurants, almost always seems to find some guy, married or not, to help her out. From an early age it doesn't seem like anyone is helping him chart a course so it's understandable that he drifts. I wonder if he drifts into working at a shelter because it's his only option or because he unconsciously is seeking out a relationship with his father?

Reading this memoir was a little like being a looky-loo at an accident. I found myself morbidly fascinated and also horrified. I personally prefer stories that unfold in a more traditional narrative and at times found his manner of revealing the story a bit confusing but I liked it enough to keep going.
Finally, knowing that after everything, Flynn is a real writer who teaches a course every year at the University of Houston, is a relief. I was comforted to know that he broken free of his family's curse but looking at his face I can see the scars; they're still there in his eyes. If you don't mind a bit of heartbreak, you might give this gritty true story of a man finding his way to his father a try.


I'm looking forward to the film which features Robert DeNiro as the father, Paul Dano as Nick Flynn and Juliane Moore, the mother.
You can also take a look at Nick Flynn's site here

1 comment:

  1. I love memoirs and know just what you mean - some of them are hard to read, yet compelling at the same time. This sounds fascinating.

    ReplyDelete

I love that you're leaving a comment! Thanks.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...