This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire

Norton. Aug. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781324005544. $25.95. MEMOIR
Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City) once again revisits his childhood to probe the house fire he survived at the age of seven. He later learned, after seeking out one of his mother’s old boyfriends, that she deliberately started the blaze in their asbestos-filled house to collect insurance money. His mother, Jody Draper, died by suicide when Flynn was 22, and she remains a mercurial figure for both readers and, seemingly, the author. He is searching for the connections between his traumatic childhood and his present-day unease, which include extricating himself from a years-long affair he began shortly after he married his wife, the actress Lili Taylor. One longs for Taylor’s perspective, but she is treated here, as with Jody and Flynn’s nameless lover, like a background prop. His most significant relationship appears to be the one he shares with his daughter; their bedtime stories and musings are interspersed throughout, frequently centering on a phantom-like figure from Flynn’s childhood named Mr. Mann.
VERDICT There is clearly a lot to mine from Flynn’s youth, but this memoir is both disjointed and illusory, featuring imagined monologs from Flynn’s mother to engage audiences further. Best for die-hard fans of Flynn’s first memoir. [See Prepub Alert, 1/29/20.]

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