Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
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Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,964 ratings  ·  751 reviews
"A stunningly beautiful new memoir . . . a near-perfect work of literature." —Stephen Elliot, San Francisco Chronicle

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...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published September 12th 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Nancy
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 N...more
Laurel
another postmodern turd in craptown
Jessica
Sep 26, 2007 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars Recommends it for: investment bankers/supermodels
Shelves: aborted-efforts
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...more
Jim
Aug 20, 2007 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: memoir snobs, bostonites
I love this book. It's a dark, beautifully-written look at a guy working at Boston's Pine Street Inn whose dad happens to frequent the shelter.

For all the crappy memoirists out there, I'm glad we have writers like Flynn who remind us that the genre doesn't necessarily have to be a haven for terrible writing that hides behind real-life experience. This guy could have practically coasted on his hard-luck life story, but instead he knuckled down and produced a kick-ass book.
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...more
cathy
May 10, 2007 cathy rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone who loves memoir so good it could be fiction.
Shelves: non-fiction-read
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...more
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...more
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...more
Ben
Aug 24, 2007 Ben rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people in Boston
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,...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Stephen
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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.
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.
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.
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.
Merry
First heard about this book when it was highly recommended to me by lauded book blogger NonAnon aka Citizen Reader -- a reliable source of good reads and someone who doesn't pull any punches for bad ones. But I dragged it home from the library three or four times and dodged it. Why? I had trouble getting "into" it. The first paragraph just turned me off. Now I know...you just have to get into or get past that peculiar first page... stay with it and you will be snagged. Exquisite, painful, gorgeo...more
Allen B. Lloyd

I tend to shy away from memoirs. Books like A Million Little Pieces, Angel At The Fence, and Love & Consequences, all masterworks of prevarication, have made me suspicious, admittedly unfairly, of the genre as a whole. Thankfully, Nick Flynn's memoir, Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, is a fine example of what a memoir ought to be: introspective, well written, occasionally humorous, and honest.

Flynn's memoir is a pragmatic, and yet powerfully emotional, examination of his relationship w...more
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...more
Särah Nour
Memoirs make up a tricky genre; one that is very much hit-or-miss, as the writer must tell their personal stories while making it accessible to an audience of strangers. Nick Flynn may have succeeded as a poet, with collections such as Some Ether and Blind Huber, but poetic language doesn’t cut it in the memoir department. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is vividly written yet unmemorable; a story of triumph over tragedy that does not triumph as a creative work of nonfiction.

Part of the memo...more
Patrice
The title of this book was enough to make me want to check it out. I heard about Nick Flynn's writing while visting the School of Visual Arts in New York city. I sat in on a thesis class for the photography M.F.A. program and one of the students referenced Flynn's work as an influence of his photographs. The name Flynn stuck with me and when I saw this book on a friend's bookshelf I asked to borrow it.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is written in a unique style divided by short chapters whi...more
Theresa
I read this book because a good friend recommended it to me. I believe the recommendations came on the grounds that:
a. I love memoirs and
b. I love homeless people and
c. I love Boston
This book is is amazing for all of those reasons. I can see how someone might not like it...but for me this book was absolute brilliance. It reads like poetry (no wonder, since the writer is a poet), and it is painful and beautiful and so sad at the same time. If you have any experience with homeless people who live...more
Ashley
This book was interesting to me because the author is a caseworker working with homeless folks which is what I used to do. I found it unfortunate that he seems characterize all homeless folks as either drunks or psychotic (or both) when in reality people are homeless for many reasons- domestic violence, disability, illness or injury, lack of affordable housing, lack of transitional support for people leaving institutions, hospitalization or prison, youth kicked out of the house for being queer,...more
Nicholas During
There are many memoirs being published today. Many one has to ask of, why? Not this one. The narrative is gripping, the story moving, and the overall the book is incredibly powerful. I strongly believe that one of the, if not the only, purpose of literature is to give a moral message to the reader. And this book does that and some. I ended up giving $20 to a homeless man on the subway while reading this book. Seriously. I feel much more empathetic to people that I often do, and that really means...more
Philitsa
I thought this book would affect me more than it did. The back of the book has a synopsis and a list of quotes from reviews, which is what made me think I'd enjoy this book more. One review caught my eye, from GQ magazine. It says, "...a life worth writing about was bestowed upon a man actually able to write..."

Firstly, everyone has a life worth writing about. There's poetry and beauty and a story to tell about everyone's life; a good writer will make the most mundane circumstance seem electric...more
rebecca
A friend gave this to me offhand one night while we were having that drunken "gotta read this" conversation. I finally picked it up out of a pile two years later and I have to say: I'm glad I did. I'm a sucker for memoirs that detail family history in relation to the development of the character. Flynn achieves telling his own story through the history of others... as well as an extremely blunt and matter-of-fact delivery concerning his own history which jumps back and forth (time wise- this is...more
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Nick Flynn is an American poet, memoirist, and playwright.

His most recent book is The Ticking Is The Bomb, a memoir about awaiting his first child while simultaneously learning and fighting against American torture during the Iraq War.
Flynn's had written one play, Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins. His most famous book is a memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. He has publi...more
More about Nick Flynn...
Some Ether The Ticking is the Bomb Blind Huber The Reenactments The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands

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“Who doesn't want to just disappear, at some point in the day, in a year, to just step off the map and float?” 62 likes
“There are many ways to drown, only the most obvious wave their arms as they're going under.” 47 likes
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