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Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  8,696 Ratings  ·  897 Reviews
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 Night in Suck City tells the story of the trajectory that led Nick and his father onto the streets, into that shelter, ...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published September 12th 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2004)
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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
Mar 16, 2008 Laurel rated it did not like it
Shelves: tried-to-but
another postmodern turd in craptown
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Greg Parker
Jul 09, 2016 Greg Parker rated it it was amazing
I started out intending to make note of which pages contained a memorable passage or witty line, and it wasn’t long before I found myself dog-earing every page. I hope the library people don’t come after me for abusing this book, because by the time I was done it looked like an accordion.

I read it in two sittings within the same day. The only books I manage to finish in one or two sittings are those that have a certain flow to them, books that don’t feel stilted or forced, that create a univers
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 just have to get into or get past that peculiar first page... stay with it and you will be snagged. Exquisite, painful, gorgeo ...more
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
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
Nicholas During
Mar 22, 2012 Nicholas During rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 08, 2013 Paul rated it did not like it
Just as with movies, I feel compelled to finish something once I start it. And, even though a movie is a mere couple of hours whereas a book takes much longer to complete, I still feel no less of a obsessive-compulsive drive to finish a book once I start it. As you can imagine, then, it takes a really, REALLY bad book to get me to put it down unfinished.

This book was exactly that.

There was no clear direction or purpose to the book—and I finished more than half of it! I found myself wondering: is
Mar 07, 2013 Theresa rated it it was amazing
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
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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 publis
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?” 78 likes
“There are many ways to drown, only the most obvious wave their arms as they're going under.” 57 likes
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