Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Another Bull**it Night In Suck City

 Nick Flynn's memoir is a unflinching examination of a son's relationship with his elusive, aggrandizing, tragically alcoholic father. The story begins on the streets of the not-so-Cape Cod-like town of Scituate, Massachusetts. Young Jonathan Flynn woos seventeen year old Jody and within a few years Jody is a young wife and mother of two sons with a husband who seems to exceed at nothing but excess. Eventually, one of them leaves and Nick and his brother Thad are left to grow up with their mother. Who works two jobs. Who never receives a penny of child support. Who brings a stream of men, most of them good, in and out of their young lives. Who suffers from a sadness so debilitating it fills their tiny house, leaving little room for her sons.
Nick grows up and ends up an alcoholic working with the homeless. Jonathan never grows up and ends up alcoholic and homeless. Their paths cross at Pine Street where Nick works and Jonathan is eventually banned for bad behavior, and on the cold, unforgiving streets of "Suck City".
Eventually Nick seeks out Jonathan to find out about his mother, his family's past, himself. He quotes Lear, "Who is it that can tell me who I am?" and constantly refers back to the tragic King as his search evolves into the great American novel his father swore to write.

Interested in reading more about the love/hate relationship between genius and alcoholism? Check out Double Double by Martha Grimes. Want to learn more about the making of a great writer? Read Maya Angelou's I know Why the Caged Bird Sings or Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides. No time to read? They made movies! Being Flynn starring Robert Dinero and The Prince of Tides with Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand are all available at VBPL.

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