Troy Patterson
September 17, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Another Bull--- Night in Suck City

Current Status
In Season
Nick Flynn
W.W. Norton

We gave it an A-

With an offhand delicacy that belies the obnoxious title and a cool force that almost justifies it, Flynn delivers an unsentimental tale about his estranged father, who floats along on liquor and grand delusions?boasting of his unpublished world-shaking novel, forging checks, doing time, and falling down. The author, after growing up with a mother (who later commits suicide) and a procession of her damaged boyfriends, learns to sink to the bottom of his own aimlessness. He crosses paths with his father when he works at a Boston homeless shelter where ”the lobbies fill with a constant nameless din, the murmur of hundreds of men, the narcotic drone of a television, punctuated by the occasional freak-out.” Unlike the pity parties that too many memoirs have become, Another Bull— Night in Suck City has no maudlin gestures, no ”inspirational” tones, no hysterics; it stares down emptiness with clear, dry eyes.

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