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Although Nick Flynn is most renowned for his beautifully morbid poetry and pose, his unique style lent a hand in developing an oddly satisfying memoir. Most would come to object this work of art due to its depressing subject matter, but I find it refreshing. To tell a tale so artistically and in a way never attempted before opened my eyes to a possibly new form of literature. It isn't the subject that is under judgment, it is the way in which it is executed. But, was it worth it? I find myself to be in conflict over the matter on if the book was a good read. I enjoyed it cover to cover, but I do not think it will be on my re-read list. Flynn tells a (true) story, one of which only needs to be heard once, but told a thousand times over. In all honesty, choose for yourself.
May 8, 2008
Every awful thing
This dude has some SERIOUS baggage! Though well-written, due to its subject matter the book is terribly hard to read. Daddy-issues, mommy-issues, depression, addiction, suicide, and homelessness are just a few of the themes here.
Nick Flynn is well-regarded as a poet, and much of this memoir reads like a lovely prose poem, particularly the chapter entitled "Same Again." He goes off the rails a bit, however, with a chapter near the end of the book which is written ostensibly as a play in the model of King Lear, but with all the characters as homeless men dressed as Santa Clause.
I read this for my book club, and am glad I read it, but I wouldn't read it again and would definitely think twice before recommending it to others.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-06-21 Flynn's wayward father, a self-styled writer and ex-con, describes his life on Boston's streets as "another bullshit night in Suck City": he hangs out in ATM lobbies, stuffs his coat with newspaper and is often "still drunk from the night before." This biting memoir describes the years poet Flynn (Some Ether; Blind Huber) spent, in his late 20s, working at one of the city's homeless shelters, where his path crisscrossed with his down-and-out father's. In examining their troublesome relationship, Flynn admits to feeling lost, as he turned to alcohol and came close to being on the other side of the shelter admissions booth himself. Punchy language and short chapters make what could otherwise be excessively painful more palatable (e.g., "Fact: In 1839 Dostoyevsky witnessed a mob of peasants attacking his father.... they poured vodka down his throat until he died. Fact: I can watch my father pouring vodka down his own throat any day of the week. My role is to play the son, though I often feel like a mob of peasants"). Although it's depressing, the book never seems hopeless, because readers know the author has succeeded at doing what his father only pretended to do: write, and write well. Agent, Bill Clegg. (Sept.) Forecast: Norton has high hopes for this memoir; they promoted it heavily at BEA and have planned an author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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