From Publishers Weekly
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.
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Poet Flynn was either fortunate or unfortunate enough to live a life so ripe for a good memoir. The events in Another Bullshit Night
are extraordinary enough to spur critical debate about whether the story would be better served in fictional form. In fact, the story is so enlightening that Flynns experimentation with narrative styles (one act plays, interviews, stream-of-consciousness) gets only cursory mentiona real free pass for book reviewers. The critics leap to call his prose poetic and lyrical, but it is the stark examination of homelessness and the paper-thin border between generations and lifestyles that gives this memoir its deep resonance.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.