The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir

The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir

Nick Flynn

Language: English

Pages: 283

ISBN: 039333886X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"A beautiful, intelligent book that renders pain both ordinary and extraordinary into art."―Susanna Sonnenberg, San Francisco Chronicle

In 2007, during the months before Nick Flynn’s daughter’s birth, his growing outrage and obsession with torture, exacerbated by the Abu Ghraib photographs, led him to Istanbul to meet some of the Iraqi men depicted in those photos. Haunted by a history of addiction, a relationship with his unsteady father, and a longing to connect with his mother who committed suicide, Flynn artfully interweaves in this memoir passages from his childhood, his relationships with women, and his growing obsession―a questioning of terror, torture, and the political crimes we can neither see nor understand in post-9/11 American life. The time bomb of the title becomes an unlikely metaphor and vehicle for exploring the fears and joys of becoming a father. Here is a memoir of profound self-discovery―of being lost and found, of painful family memories and losses, of the need to run from love, and of the ability to embrace it again.

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with two women, honest with neither, and in as dark a place as I’ve been in a long, long time—In the middle of my life I found myself in a deep dark wood, having lost the way. When I was with one, I dreaded a call from the other, so my phone was always silenced, when I spoke I used the name sweetie or honey or darling so as not to make a mistake. I’d spent the years since I’d quit drinking practicing being honest, and it stunned me how quickly that dissolved, how easily one lie folded into the

lovers. I was down to four—my friends (I shifted my then-lover over to this list), my writing, my body, and the one photograph I had of me with my mother. I felt desperate. The facilitator said to cross off two more. Vengeful god, this posed a real problem. If I crossed off my body, could I still exist? Without friends who would catch me when I fell? Could I hold the image of my mother in my mind, without that photograph, when my memory was so bad? If I could no longer write, would anything ever

becomes my (cynical) mantra—the outcome of the current crisis is already determined—I hate carrying it around, muttering it to myself. I hate my self-satisfaction when each act of violence and chaos in Baghdad seems to prove the president and his certainty wrong. Until I begin to wonder if, just maybe, violence and chaos are precisely the outcome he intended. (2005) Sam Harris and I have an email correspondence for a year or so after the photograph was taken of us shaking hands and smiling,

intentionally; in law, the act of self-destruction by a person sound in mind and capable of measuring his moral responsibility. I carried that definition around for years, as if some part of me needed to believe that what she’d done was an act of clarity. After I quit drinking—before my slip—I would sometimes call her an “addict,” but I never really believed it, not deeply. Her suicide had to have been caused by something more than what could be corked in a bottle or folded into tinfoil—nothing

out of the desert, and now it’s reenacted, over and over, on daytime television. By now it’s nearly hardwired into us, but is it possible that this same narrative structure is now being used, by some, as a justification for the use of torture? The idea being that if we push the prisoner a little more, if we don’t give up when it becomes unpleasant, if we can ignore the screams, the disfigurement, the voice in our heads, then the answer will come, the answer that will save the world. And if the

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