today's inspiration: nick flynn

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us." -- Kafka

This is precisely how I feel every time I read Nick Flynn's writing. A couple of years ago, I read his memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and it made my heart ache so much at one point I had to put it down and take a couple deep breaths. And then I read his poetry and was even more amazed by the unflinching honesty and sensitivity of his poems and how much it affected me.

Very few writers can do that, make you feel so intensely with them. But then again, not everyone has had a tragic history as Nick Flynn and raised above it. His parents had a divorce when he was little, his mother committed suicide when he was in his early 20's and he never saw his father again until later when he was a case worker in a homeless shelter in Boston. It turned out that his father became homeless and was roaming all over the city, sometimes showing up in the shelter that he works in.

Nick Flynn's memoir is mostly about his estranged relationship with his homeless father and the circles they made around each other, neither of them quiet knowing how to become father and son. It is a very compelling and beautiful read, a story that will make you look at homelessness in an entirely different light. And did I say that the writing is exquisite? I know I already did, but it can't be said enough.

"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. A futon. A bed. But I never did. If I let him inside I would become him, the line between us would blur, my own slow-motion car wreck would speed up. The slogan on the side of a moving company truck read TOGETHER WE ARE GOING PLACES -- modified by a vandal or a disgruntled employee to read TOGETHER WE ARE GOING DOWN. If I went to the drowning man the drowning man would pull me under. I couldn't be his life raft." (p.11)

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is currently adapted into a movie starring Robert de Niro, Paul Dano, and Julianne Moore. It is set to be released in Spring 2012 but you can watch the first official trailer from Focus Features here.

Photo credit: Geordie Wood (via)


  1. "it made my heart ache so much at one point I had to put it down and take a couple deep breaths"

    um, wow, ok, so it's on my tbr list now!

    love julianne moore, so look forward to that.

  2. wow Odessa, once more you introduce me to an artist I didn't knew about and I'm loving it already. I've already placed his book on my wish list and the movie, wow, love the actors and the trailer is already fantastic, can't wait to see it ! Thank you :)

  3. monica, yes. that "stab" and "wound" is definitely true in this book. but you will be rewarded.

    sofia, you're welcome. some poet friends of mine introduced nick flynn's work to me a couple of years ago. those who met him in person has nothing but praises for him so i'm really happy his work is getting the attention that it deserves.

  4. WOW, what a life! I can't wait to read his novel and poetry. Thanks for telling us about him Odessa!

    Camila Faria

  5. I'm very much looking forward to this movie. And I absolutely agree that we should read what wounds and stabs us.

  6. camila, you're welcome.

    hila, me too. i'm really excited but at the same time i also don't want my expectations set too high because i adore the book.