Another Bullshit Night in Suck City 

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
by Nick Flynn; reading at Powell's on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne, Thursday Sept. 30, 7:30 pm

A good memoir has less to do with the writing than with the editing. No matter how fascinating the life written about, too much detail is like watching someone jerk off. Nick Flynn's book, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (hands down the best title of the year) is nearly 350 pages and it just flies.

Flynn is a poet, having published two well-received collections of poems, and so he doesn't take the usual approach to writing a memoir. He breaks it up, bouncing around chronologically as well as stylistically. There are about 80 mini-chapters, most only a couple pages in length, some only a paragraph.

This stylistic approach works well, since Flynn's life is so dense that even a year of it could make up an entire book. An alcoholic deadbeat father, a depressed and drugged mother, Flynn's own serious drug and alcohol addiction, his mother's suicide, and the eventual run-in with his father at the homeless shelter where Flynn works are all contained within. Interspersed are jobs with the mafia, a motorcycle wreck, restoring and living alone on a boat, a 10-year relationship, a lot of drugs, and the '80s art and music scenes in New York and Boston. It's a lot to cover in one book.

For the most part, Flynn's way of turning his life into poetry works quite well, as the narrative bounces around, deconstructs, even transforms itself into dramatic stage scenes at times, read by grotesque characters. There are points when the language becomes too ambiguous and you want less poetics and more straight information. But then you continue on and get to another perfect line, such as: "When everything has proven tenuous one can either move toward permanence or move toward impermanence. The boat's sublimely impermanent."

As a poet, Flynn is an expert in the economy of language: a writer that knows how to make a little say a lot. That's a nice find in this genre. Another Bullshit Night is not another bullshit memoir

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