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The Ticking Is the Bomb

A Memoir

Nick Flynn (Author, University of Houston)


"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.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • January 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-393-33886-7
  • 5.6 × 8.2 in / 283 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“What does it mean that America tortures? . . . This is the question that haunts Nick Flynn's devastating new book . . . the best passages here are simply astonishing. Flynn writes with great tenderness about the terrors and joys of fatherhood . . . a disquieting masterpiece.” — Steve Almond, Los Angeles Times

“[Flynn's] search for the meaning of fatherhood in the era of terror is remarkable not only for the nimbleness with which he pulls these threads together—observations of former prisoners are woven with meditations on loss—but also for its empathy and unshrinking honesty.” — Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

“[Flynn's] efforts to reconcile the tattered pieces of his life—his determination to find love and redemption in a world gone mad—feel gutsy, hard won, and utterly true.” — Time Out New York

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