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THE REENACTMENTS by Nick Flynn Kirkus Star


A Memoir

by Nick Flynn

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-393-34435-6
Publisher: Norton

Flynn (The Ticking Is the Bomb, 2010, etc.) writes about having his memoir made into a movie.

In Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (2004), Flynn told the story of reconnecting with his homeless and alcoholic father when the author was working at a Boston homeless shelter in the late 1980s, after Flynn’s mother had committed suicide years earlier. That memoir became the basis for a movie, Being Flynn, filmed in 2011 and released this year, starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore as his parents. (Actor Paul Dano, of There Will Be Blood fame, portrayed Flynn himself.) This new memoir is told as a series of short, almost pointillist vignettes—most a page or less—creating a complex patchwork of thoughts and ruminations on memory. Flynn systematically tries to make sense of his roiling emotions as he cycles through episodes from his and his parents’ lives. The inherent surreality of having your life portrayed by actors is a major theme. Describing a table reading of the film script, Flynn writes, “De Niro opens his mouth and my father comes out, then Dano opens his mouth and I come out, then Julianne opens her mouth.” Several times, Flynn uses a quote from another writer—Joan Didion, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone Weil and others—as a springboard to a new thought or to sharpen a previous one. He also analyzes other works of art, from glass flowers to a scene from The Godfather Part II to an obscure Samuel Beckett/Buster Keaton film.

Flynn’s determination to better understand his life through the act of writing and remembering has yielded a truly insightful, original work.