Memoir of the Greatest Living American Writer

Nick Flynn’s startling memoir is an absolutely killer read – a broken, dysfunctional diary, a series of fragments and vignettes; humourous, fast, passionate, unsettling and strangely compelling. This is an autobiography with a difference, because, Flynn’s life is a dysfunctional wreck from which he has wrought a  masterpiece of modern fiction.

Flynn’s prose is an illumination, easy to read, and he has the skill to get to the heart of his narrative without falling into the complex moral labrynthe of his subject matter – homelessness, alcoholism and failure.

Although this book deals with the darker side of a family destroyed through alcoholism and suicide it is impossible to put down.

 

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Homelessness Alcohol and Crime

Flynn traces the fluctuations of his own life through the obtuse relationship he has with his absent father and his itinerant youth seems to jettison him upon the same downward trajectory – a life of crime, drugs and alcohol.

Nick Flynn eventually begins working at a centre for the homeless where he meets his father Jonathan Flynn: a delusional, homeless poet and writer, an alcoholic and an ex-convict. His father claims to be the greatest living American writer – a “writer” living in a cardboard box, or upon a bench, waiting for the big advance, writing an invisible and unfinished masterpiece amid the ruins of his life.

”I find him sitting naked in a galvanized tin tub in the center of his room, bathing and drinking straight vodka from a silver chalice, like some demented king in the Middle Ages.”

Stream of Consciousness and Style

Flynn experiments with stream of consciousness writing, abandons chronology, delivers a play, a letter from Patty Hearst and prints some of his fathers bewildering letters. The novel has a vaguely impressionistic feel – the chapters are often short and yet his distinctive style and brutal honesty bring a fluidity and flow to his writing. His portraiture of homelessness is delivered with an exceptional candour and his own introspection without self-indulgence, without recourse to anything but the truth.

“Another Bullshit Night in Suck City” won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award.

 

Being Flynn  – Robert DeNiro

The novel has recently been transformed into a film with screen legend Robert DeNiro playing the part of Flynn’s father Jonathan and Paul Dano in the role of Nick.

Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn’s website is here and his latest biographical work “The Ticking is the Bomb” weaves his full biography – love, family, fatherhood and addiction together with the disillusionment of an American consciousness destroyed in the post 911 aftermath of Abu Ghraib.