The Bookcase Project: Book 13 -Another Bullshit Night In Suckcity by Nick Flynn

Book 13: Another Bullshit Night In Suckcity by Nick Flynn, Faber and Faber, 2004.

This book has many high points, but quite a few low ones too. It got off to a good start, but began to sag in the middle then picked up again towards the end. Another Bullshit Night In Suckcity is a memoir that tells the story of how Flynn and his father – a self-proclaimed poet and novelist, who claims to have written a ground breaking novel – met. Flynn was 27 when he first met the mystery father who had sent him letters throughout his teenage life. It was the 1980’s, and Flynn worked in a homeless shelter in Boston, the shelter where his alcoholic father eventually ended up.
The book reveals some harsh truths about homelessness and broken relationships that were only ever vaguely there in the first place, with descriptions that make you turn the page over at the top corner.
Sometimes I’d see my father, walking past my building on his way to another nowhere. I could have given him a key, offered a piece of my floor. But if I let him inside the line between us would blur. my own slow-motion car wreak would speed up.
My father wraps himself in newspaper some nights, stuffs his coat with newspaper, the headlines finally about him, though he isn’t named.
On wet nights he wraps himself in plastic, a Hefty trashbag sealed with duct tape, he weaves himself into a cocoon, lies on the ground, puts his feet into the bag and pushes until they reach the bottom.
There are moments when the descriptions are rich with horror.
Some have scars from the corners of their mouths to their ears, which means they squealed. Many fingers are gone or half gone, to heavy machinery or knife fights. Some earlobes have been nibbled off by rats. One guy was set on fire – now the burn scars rise up his neck like flames. A few of the guys have hernias – their stomachs have fallen into their testicles, which now hang enormously between their legs.
Throughout the book, Flynn experiments with various narrative styles, including stream of consciousness, one acts plays, and interviews. This books is a stark examination of homelessness, hard truths and the relationship between a father and son which is warped out of any familiar recognition.