Nick Flynn @ McNally Jackson Books
I came to Nick Flynn not by his poetry, but by way of his memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. This was during the height of my obsession with Raymond Carver, emulating (poorly) his stories and reenacting (with limited success) his life, one six-pack at a time. In these halcyon days, I believed heavy drinking was one step in the short march to a meaningful and respected writing career, that admitting to your friends that you might be an alcoholic was something you reported as if you’d just seen a spectacular car wreck: falsely aghast to cover the pride you know you shouldn’t feel.
I freely admit that it takes not a small bit of mental dexterity and college kid obliviousness to examine Carver’s history and come to the conclusion that alcoholism and promiscuity are badges of successful authors. It’s a meaty chunk of shame I’ve not yet swallowed, much less passed, in the eight or nine years since I first began channeling the spirit of a dead drunken frat boy masquerading as the ghost of Raymond Carver. I like to think that Flynn’s memoir helped purge those demons from both my pen and my self.