PODCAST: Nick Flynn reads from "The Ticking Is the Bomb" [MP3]

Folks, we have a special Father's Day treat for you all -- an exclusive podcast of Nick Flynn reading from his new book, The Ticking Is the Bomb. Enjoy.

Nick Flynn reads to daughter Maeve (courtesy of the WW Norton Flickr gallery)

For a guy who's had enough arduous life experience to fill up two memoirs with heavy questions about fatherhood, alcohol abuse, homelessness, suicide, and torture, Nick Flynn seems to keep in remarkably good spirits, if the playful banter he struck up with the crowd during a recent book reading is any indicator. The author of 2004's Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which is mostly about his relationship (or lack thereof) with an alcoholic criminal of a father, Flynn weaves his internal struggles into grander political explorations, primarily those of Bush-era war atrocities in his new memoir, The Ticking Is the Bomb.

Not exactly light subject matter by any standards, but Flynn continually finds a way to maintain a sense of zen in his frank presentation of both personal and universal horrors. The daily meditation he practiced while writing the book probably helped out. "I felt like I was writing from a place of obsession in some ways [with Another Bullshit Night in Suck City]," Flynn explained to the crowd during his reading at Berklee's 939 Cafe back in January. "And I said, 'I want to write this new one from a meditative place' ... I ended up figuring out that if I wanted to do that, that meant I had to meditate. So I meditated for like two years, every day for half an hour in the middle of writing this book."

Routine meditation didn't stifle the Scituate-born Flynn's penchant for literal and figurative map-hopping in his storytelling, however: The Ticking Is the Bomb, in a series of vignettes, touches on everything from infant CPR training prior to the birth of his daughter, to a stint in Istanbul documenting the experiences of Iraqi detainees, as Flynn takes "a hard look at the dark and dangerous world into which his daughter would soon be born" (in the words of former Phoenix staffer Mike Miliard, who profiled Flynn earlier this year). "Some of the days you are given will be spent in a strange city," Flynn read from his book, "And at the end of the day, you will know that you have spoken to no one except the girl you got your coffee from."

Skipping from vignette to vignette at 939, Flynn joked about his memoir-writing ADHD in his new book. "So you're probably all getting a pretty good sense of what the book's about at this point," he teased after reading two seemingly unrelated passages. "On skipping around: I think you'd have more satisfaction if you read it front to back ... but you can just open it up to any page, I guess."

DOWNLOAD: Nick Flynn reads from "The Ticking Is the Bomb" [MP3]

Recorded live at Cafe 939, on January 20, 2010. To subscribe to our podcast, paste this RSS feed into your podcatcher or feed-reader of choice, or bookmark //
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