Book-Ness with K.P.-Ness: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Bullshit Night coverWe all need to create the story that will make sense of our lives.” – “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” by Nick Flynn

I will often choose a book based on the title or the dedication alone. With this title it was love at first sight. As far as the dedication goes, or what Nick Flynn calls the disclaimer; The last line reads: “The names of those who may have transgressed the law have also been altered, except for the name of my father, who has done his time and is proud of it.”

Originally published in 2004, “Another Bullshit Night” is about Nick, a poet, and his father who’s been absent for all of Nicks 20+ years. When his father becomes a resident at the homeless shelter where Nick works, he tries to make sense of their relationship as all their similarities and differences come into focus.

Nick’s father, Jonathan, has gotten by for years on his charisma and hoodwinks. “His charm, less tattered than it would later become, before several tons of alcohol crush it out of him.” Jonathan fancies himself as a writer, but after years of claiming to be the next great American novelist, all he has to show for it is a single rejection letter that he’s been Xeroxing until it is almost a blur.

Nick’s descriptions of this relationship are perfect, honest prose: I look in his eyes as he speaks, somehow I’d learned to do that, like a tree learns to swallow barbed wire.”

Part novel, part screenplay, all poetic memoir, “Bullshit Night” is not written as a story of survival against all odds, but more an introspection despite the discomfort. “If I let him inside I would become him, the line between us would blur, my own slow-motion car wreck would speed up.

In “Same Again,” Nick Flynn creates an entirely new way to write a chapter. At first this seems crazy, as if he couldn’t possibly continue this way.  But by the end of the chapter, I was convinced of Mr. Flynn’s genius. “Falling down drunk. Crawling down drunk. Drunk & disorderly.  I say high tolerance. I say high capacity.  I say social lubricant. They say protective custody.

In 2012, the book was made into a movie called “Being Flynn” starring Paul Dano and Robert DeNiro.  (I liked the movie, but hard for me to judge because I am a big Paul Dano fan.) After the movie, I read the book again because in the first read I was so impressed with the writing, that I forgot that the story itself is stranger than fiction.

I have quoted Flynn a lot in this review, but I will leave this here for you, in case you want one more. Favorite Quote: “Sometimes the psych guys will start drinking, some call it ‘self-medicating’ but it looks like clinging to an anvil in the middle of the sea.”

Previously on LA Beat:  DVD review of Being Flynn

 Nick Flynn’s website

In 2013, Mr. Flynn published The Reenactments, a book about what it was like making a movie about his book. If that sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about Stephen Elliot doing the same thing last week. 

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K.P. Rennie

About K.P. Rennie

I generally only write reviews about books that I am inspired to read more than once, so my book reviews aren't about new releases that I liked, they are about tried and true books that I LOVE. I favor quirky stories, inspirational memoirs, and real life drama. There are many movies and books that I have enjoyed more than once. If you liked any of these, we probably have similar taste- Books: Peter Pan, Choke, A Life Without Consequences, Fight Club, The Adderall Diaries, Lets Pretend This Never Happened, The Glass Castle, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Wild, The Tribes of Palos Verdes, Just Kids, Movies: Little Miss Sunshine, Seven Psychopaths, Ghost World, Pulp Fiction, Hook, Big Fish, Reservoir Dogs, Moonrise Kingdom, Being John Malcovich, I am President of The Fun Zone; The Center for the Study of Funism.
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