When I was in Vancouver my friend and I were seeing a movie a day. Not on purpose just because her and I really like films. We came across this small theater in the middle of the city. There weren’t any big movie names playing just abstract posters with strange titles. We looked at them and picked one called, “Finding Flynn.”
Watching the movie surprised me that I had never heard of this film or the book it was based on. The story was compelling and truthful. The first few minutes of the movie I wasn’t sure where it was taking us but by the end of it, the characters became real people to me. It was the movie that answered questions I always wondered about, “What was it like to be homeless? how did they get there? where was their family?”
The movie was beautiful. At the end of it my friend and I sat there thinking about the characters we just encountered. My friend Ada said she saw his book in her bookstore, she noticed it because of its odd title, “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.”
On our way home we stop by her store and I bought the book. They transformed the book perfectly to the screen but I wanted to hear more about the story.
It has been since high school since I read a book like this. In fact I wish high schools would add this to the list of books to read, next to The Catcher in the Rye.
There is so much to say, where to start. I wish we were all in a cafe talking about it. There are so remember able passages in this book. It wasn’t until mid way did I think to mark them so I can share them with you here.
The book itself is a memoir, written by Nick Flynn. His father Jonathan Flynn is a hard headed man who says he is the next American great writer, through out his whole life he claims he is writing a book but instead lives a selfish life, and ends up homeless. His son encounters his father randomly, mostly though letters his dad sends him but one day Jonathan Flynn ends up at the homeless shelter that Nick Flynn is working at in Boston.
“Men come through the door with lips and canes, with walkers, crutches, in wheelchairs, and crawling. Some are carried in, draped between two friends, feet dragging behind One has a glass tee he keeps losing. One has F you tattooed on the inside of his lower lips. A few have tears tattooed on their checks, which means they’ve killed someone. 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….”
Nick Flynn would sum deep thoughts beautifully.
“… I see no end to being lost. You can spend your entire life simply falling in that direction. It isn’t a station you reach but just the general state of going down. Once you make it back, if you make it back, you will stand before your long-lost friends in some essential way they will no longer know you.”
“The shelter was meant to be a waystation, a halfway house, but halfway to where wasn’t specified. The cot and the roof and the plate of food were only meant to tide one over. It was never meant to be a life raft. Even a life raft is only supposed to get you from the sinking ship back to land, you were never intended to live in the life raft, to drift years on end, in sight of land but never close enough.”
“We all need to create the story that will make sense of our lives, to make sense of the daily tasks. Yet each nigh the doubts returned, howling through him. Without doubt there can be no faith.”
“I now find myself writing a book about an absent father who writes letters to a son about the novel he is writing. A novel the son doesn’t believe exists. The Great Unseen American Novel.”
“For the only book written about my father (the greatest writer America has yet produced), the only book ever written about or by him, as far as I can tell, is this book in your hands. The book somehow fell to me, the son, to write. My father’s uncredited, non compliant ghostwriter. Not enough to be stuck with his body, to be stuck with his name, but to become his secretary, his handmaid, caught up in a folly, a doomed project, to write about a book that doesn’t, that didn’t ever, that may not even, exist.”
You may wonder about the book cover or about the title, but the neat thing is by the end of the book you’ll get it. And you wont forget it.
This book has left a print on me.