All three of these books, from the past year, are similar only in that each wrestles with daily existence in ways that have startled me, made me rethink everything I had done up to that moment, and made me reevaluate how I want to move forward. Reading each of these books is an active, rather than a passive, experience. In each I have found moments—several moments—where something I’ve never seen conjured in language before somehow rises up, before my eyes. How each writer—a poet turned essayist (Biss), a poet channeling Ginsberg with long, rangy meditations (Zucker), and a novelist arriving at his first memoir (Elliott)—arrived at these moments is both mysterious and seemingly simple—each picked up a thread of thought (racism, motherhood, murder), an image (telephone poles, zapruder films, adderall), and followed them, or, rather, allowed themselves to be led, into an unknown place. Each of these books is thrilling, in their plainspokeness and in their brilliance.
All three of these books, from the past year, are similar only in that each wrestles with daily existence in ways that have startled me, made me rethink everything I had done up to that moment, and made me reevaluate how I want to move forward.
Nick Flynn is an award-winning poet and the author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. His new book is The Ticking is the Bomb (January 2010). He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
More From Year in Reading
- A Year in Reading: 2014 Wrap-Up December 23, 2014
- A Year in Reading: Charles Finch December 22, 2014
- A Year in Reading: Michael Robbins December 22, 2014
- A Year in Reading: Elizabeth Minkel December 21, 2014
- A Year in Reading: Matt Seidel December 21, 2014
- View All
Other Recent Articles
- The Book Report: Episode 8: ‘The Mad and the Bad’ by Jean-Patrick Manchette January 30, 2015
- Garnish with a Sprig of Dorothy Parker: The Literary Meet Market January 29, 2015
- The Existentialist Swimmer: Daniel Galera’s ‘Blood-Drenched Beard’ January 28, 2015
- Conversation as Performance: On ‘BOMB: The Author Interviews’ January 28, 2015
- A Future for Books Online: Tumblr’s Reblog Book Club January 27, 2015
- View All
- Ted Wheeler says "A beautiful and fascinating essay. A fitting tribute to Johnson’s work, which I’ve become very much..."The Edge, Too Has Its Edge: Reading Uwe Johnson in New York
- Mateeka says "Beautiful."The Last English Teacher
- Dunbar Humbly says "Another great lil episode. Makes me want to check out this book. I, too, wish there was a..."The Book Report: Episode 8: ‘The Mad and the Bad’ by Jean-Patrick Manchette
- Moe Murph says "“All ages are contemporaneous.” -Ezra Pound Beyond all the background noise and interference, writers/readers love..."Garnish with a Sprig of Dorothy Parker: The Literary Meet Market
- Alison says "“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man..."Chandler’s Poetry