> Another Bullshit Night in Suck City AKA Being Flynn: About the book by Nick Flynn #book2movie | Chapter1-Take1

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City AKA Being Flynn: About the book by Nick Flynn #book2movie


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 book is being rereleased as Being Flynn, in line with the film version set for release in March. I imagine Another Bullshit Night in Suck City would be tough to put on a marquee. I’ve seen plenty of internet mentions 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 alcoholic 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.


Flynn, the son, barely escapes the sins of the father. He drinks, he does drugs. His mother, also an alcoholic, leaves Jonathan, taking Nick and his brother Tad with her. She goes through a string of men, seeming to be barely in the picture. Flynn writes that she works at various nightclubs and restaurants, almost always seems to find some guy, married or not, to help her out. 


I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Flynn to see his father in this condition
, which he did on only a couple of occasions while he was growing up. Instead, he mainly heard the stories second hand, receiving letters from him over the years. Nick knew his father lived on park benches, that he pretended to have business at ATMs so he could stay in the warmth of the lobby, that he wrapped himself in plastic bags to keep out the cold and damp. It must have been painful as well as shameful. Flynn writes about not helping his father for fear of spiraling down in the same direction. Reading about his father, larger than life, it’s easy to see how he could suck the life right out of you.

From an early age, it seems that without real parents to help him chart a course, Nick Flynn understandably drifts. Does he drift into working at a homeless shelter because his father’s homelessness spurs his concern, or is he subconsciously 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. Preferring stories that unfold in a more traditional narrative, at times I found Flynn’s manner of revealing the story a bit confusing. Still, 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 broke free of his family’s curse even though 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 as Flynn’s 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.

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