Mi, Mi, Mi, Mi

Ask Not for Whom the Bomb Ticks

Nick Flynn's obsessions dovetail and compel.

Book Cover Writer, poet, and University of Houston mentor Nick Flynn received well-deserved attention and commendations for the first installment of his memoirs, Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, which chronicled a childhood filled with his mother’s suicide and his father’s incarceration and an adulthood where he meets his father at the homeless shelter at which he works.

The Ticking is The Bomb (WW Norton) is his new memoir (“all memoirs, perhaps, are an attempt to follow a trail of breadcrumbs through a dark forest, to make our way back home”), operating on a different narrative level spurred on by a chaotic and critical crossroads in his life and the effect in May of 2004 of photographs from Abu Ghraib. And then in anticipation of the birth of his daughter in 2007, Flynn met in Istanbul some of the Iraqi “detainees” pictured in those infamous images. “I was hoping to be done with torture before my daughter was born, before I became a father, but it was not to be, and so she has become a necessary part of this project.”

As disjunction of elements dictated a different approach to storytelling than in his first memoir, Flynn explains the book’s nonlinear structure:
The structure of this book emerged organically as a “closed-image system,” that is to say that in the writing certain image clusters kep rising up—which seemed to gather energy around them, until the form began to resemble a ball of energy, rather than a journey or a chronology. At some point, after it had taken shape, in a certain light, it seemed almost as if a scientist had discovered a new planet hanging in the night sky, even though we knew it had been there, right there above us, all along.
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