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Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,239 Ratings  ·  845 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
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Paperback, 347 pages
Published September 12th 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

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 starte
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Laurel
Mar 16, 2008 Laurel rated it did not like it
Shelves: tried-to-but
another postmodern turd in craptown
Jessica
Sep 26, 2007 Jessica rated it it was ok
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
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Jim
Aug 20, 2007 Jim rated it really liked it
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.
Imogen
Dec 19, 2009 Imogen rated it it was amazing
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
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cathy
May 10, 2007 cathy rated it really liked it
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
Kathy Lam
Dec 20, 2013 Kathy Lam rated it liked it
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
Dave
Jul 25, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing
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
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Cheryl
Mar 29, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
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.
Debbie
Dec 19, 2008 Debbie rated it really liked it
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
Adam Floridia
Jun 08, 2013 Adam Floridia rated it liked it
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
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Emily
Feb 08, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Ben
Aug 24, 2007 Ben rated it really liked it
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
Christine Fay
Mar 19, 2015 Christine Fay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This book is a memoir by a guy who did not have a relationship with his father until he met him serendipitously at a homeless shelter where Nick worked. Flynn’s writing sometimes waxes poetic with his small anecdotes about growing up without a dad, and the trouble that he often found himself in. The Patty Hearst Story and Creature Double Feature are familiar events to my childhood as well, which makes for a nostalgic moment. This was made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro and Julianne Moore; i ...more
Oriana
Sep 30, 2007 Oriana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2007, phenomenal
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
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Abe Brennan
May 17, 2007 Abe Brennan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary
Sep 12, 2011 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets, memoirists, anyone who enjoys a good story.
Recommended to Mary by: Elena Georgiou
In Flynn’s 2004 memoir, in which he details his relationship and history with his father, he keeps the reader solidly grounded in time and place by the use of several devices, including switching verb tense, point of view, and adding dates at the beginning of chapters, or in letter and log excerpts. Flynn sets the stage in the first chapter, when he describes his homeless father’s efforts to use an ATM booth for shelter at night, by leading with the date,
"(1989)." Flynn can toss the reader from
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Stephen Durrant
Aug 27, 2013 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it
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
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
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Christy
Apr 18, 2013 Christy rated it really liked it
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
Natalie
Dec 21, 2014 Natalie rated it liked it
3.5

I liked this book and it was a fast read. Flynn is a good writer with an interesting life story. However, he jumps back and forth and it is hard to get a real sense of the timeline of events, which can get a bit frustrating at times. He also adds in some strange chapters that are related but seem repetitive or slightly disconnected to the book overall. In addition, though Flynn certainly doesn't spare any details, including ones that go deeply into his own issues, he winds up keeping the read
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Sara
Jun 24, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing
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.
Paul Dinger
Nov 14, 2014 Paul Dinger rated it really liked it
This is a surprisingly compelling memoir that I lucked upon by accident. I found it at, of all places, a library book sale like Ex Libris and it turned out to be a real page turner. Flynn's prose is merciless in its depiction of madness as something to shunned. The father is a would be novelist who uses literature as his con, he is always writing the great novel, which of course he isn't. It becomes his excuse for alcoholism, drug use, and criminal behavior. As someone around these types, I can ...more
Brian
Nov 05, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it
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
Nov 29, 2008 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fred
Sep 03, 2014 Fred rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, lit
Much of this book really worked beautifully. The spare language, the emotional distance, the imperfect memories and half-true tales. The Boston-area setting helped as well, if one is into local color. This one is.

A small handful--perhaps more of a pinch--of the later, more experimental selections went too far astray for my liking. And that's honestly too bad, because while I've no doubt the author has ready defenses and explanations that would instantly transform my opinion, as ever the author w
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Merry
Jan 02, 2009 Merry rated it really liked it
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
Sep 15, 2010 Allen B. Lloyd rated it really liked it

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
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Särah Nour
Nov 28, 2011 Särah Nour rated it it was ok
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
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Patrice
Jan 14, 2010 Patrice rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
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
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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
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More about Nick Flynn...

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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?” 75 likes
“There are many ways to drown, only the most obvious wave their arms as they're going under.” 52 likes
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