Magazine article New Internationalist

The Ticking Is the Bomb

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Ticking Is the Bomb

Article excerpt

The Ticking is the Bomb Nick Flynn (Faber, ISBN 9780571243709)

Part memoir, part social commentary, part philosophical inquiry, US writer Nick Flynn's book builds on his earlier autobiography, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. As with that work, Flynn's memories of his mother (who committed suicide when he was young) and his turbulent relationship with his alcoholic father feature strongly. Structured around the months leading up to his daughter's birth, Flynn's narrative cartwheels back and forth through his life, stretching back to his childhood, his work in a homeless shelter in Boston, and his travels as an itinerant lecturer and successful author.

Initially, I found the book's baggy structure and solipsistic focus irritating -despite his chaotic upbringing and literary lifestyle, Flynn has as many boring days and banal thoughts as the rest of us. I was also deeply unconvinced by his quest for redemption through his baby daughter, and his charmless habit of presenting universal emotions as if newly minted by his own thought-processes. …

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