20

MONDAY

There are some great books with four-letter words in their titles. Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is not one of them. The prize-winning poet’s memoir recalls his years working at a Boston homeless shelter in the late ’80s, when he frequently crossed paths with his down-and-out father, a mentally disturbed ex-con who had walked out on him years before. As Flynn tries to make sense of his father’s life, he finds himself caught in his own battle with alcoholism. Night is filled with authentic, gritty details, among them a vivid description of the men in the shelter’s showers, who, “ashamed of their bodies, turn their faces to the tiles, hold[ing] their hands over their privates as they walk.” But despite the strength of his subject matter and his unsentimental humor, Flynn’s ice-cold prose misses some key notes. What could have been an understated and heartbreaking meditation on fatherhood and filial responsibility seems to be more an awkward collection of unhappy memories and eerie anecdotes. Flynn visits D.C. at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 638-7610. (Paul Morton)