Ashley Collins's Reviews > The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir

The Ticking Is the Bomb by Nick Flynn
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's review
Nov 08, 11

Reading this memoir is like taking a glimpse into his diary. Flynn confronts his fears and confesses them all in-between the bind of a highlighter yellow cover. The storyline, however, isn’t of the traditional sort that follows a strict chronological order. It rather skips, like a journal, backwards and forwards in time from his feelings of having a baby come into his life, to his childhood where he was deprived of a proper upbringing. Although the structure of this novel is very all over the place, it works in this case because these scatter-brained snip bits of different parts of his life show that Flynn himself is bewildered and trying to make sense of it all as he writes the novel, and as it progresses his words seem like they are a discovery to him just as much as they are for the reader.
The title of the memoir itself is a metaphor to Flynn becoming a father. The impending birth seems almost to be for him like the ticking of the bomb because he fears the birth of his child and fatherhood in general. Flynn takes us back to his childhood where it’s clear that his parent’s weren’t very decent parental figures. The fact that he gives a glimpse, a taste as to how his childhood was, is essential in understanding his present worries of becoming a father, and the fear he has that he’ll abandon his child or won’t love her enough.
But he also fears bringing up his child in the age of terror. He highlights this perfectly in the beginning of the book where he creates a juxtaposition between his baby’s ultrasound picture for the first time to images of the photographs taken at Abu Ghraib. Amidst talking about his life, he interjects torture methods of the U.S into it, and seems almost obsessed with it in the months prior to his child’s birth. The fact that he adds historical elements like the 2004 televised presidential elections and 9/11, gives his story credibility, and demonstrates how he worries for his daughter, for the innocent youth, among these scary present circumstances that he’s witnessed and has attempted to do something about.
I really thought it was interesting how Flynn does an subconscious comparison between good and evil. The evil is the torture methods and everything going on in the media at that time, and the good is his daughter. He uses a simile comparing his daughter to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. “Soon the world will transform from black and white to color, like the moment Dorothy first steps into Oz.” Basically his daughter will grow and see the world around her, see the color, the good and evil, but she will overcome it just like Dorothy did. The diction for this excerpt and the whole novel in general is ironic and beautiful.
The Ticking is the Bomb is an honest and bold piece of writing that was a discovery for me just as much as it was for Flynn. Throughout the novel Flynn, as the character, grows, even more so after the birth of his daughter. It’s a wonderful glimpse into a man’s life, his perspective, and the way he sees his life amid those events that affected us all. This memoir is truly an excellently written one, with as much heart and love only a true writer can master.


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