Musings and Associations: The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands by Nick Flynn


Now it’s no secret that Nick Flynn is a talented writer. I’d normally say poet, because this post is all about his poetry collection The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, but let’s just be real. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City is fucking fantastic. Nick Flynn is just a super talented scribe all around.


The Captain collection is no different. It focuses on post-2001 conflicts in the Middle East. The collection is split up into three sections, all of which explore at least one of the four elements- Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Water is by far the most haunting, focusing on a number of water-boarding court cases and complaints. It’s overall just a powerful collection. I honestly can’t find anything to gripe on.


But, I’d be lying if I said reading this left me with the same feeling all great poetry books do. There was something extra, a little +1. After finishing the collection, I couldn’t shake two other haunting pieces I’d read about similar subjects. I figured this would be a great place to showcase them.


The first title is to a literary tune similar to Flynn’s. Steve Almond’s God Bless America is one of the author’s first adventures into fiction telling and it’s incredibly successful. The book opens with a kind of ride-the-ducks drug heist gone wrong and ends with a tone that leaves the reader feeling hollow. I don’t want to spoil too much, but check out this collection of short stories if you get a chance. You won’t regret it.


The second title that The Captain left me thinking about is Vertigo’s The Dark and Bloody. This short, five-issue long comic series focuses on the life of Iris, an army vet returning from a tour in Iraq. The narrative is told from alternating viewpoints, all of which leave you shaken. It’s slow burning and Southern Gothic, guaranteed to not disappoint. It’s also just a really beautiful series with an aesthetically pleasing art style. Give it a glance over at your local comic shop.


I almost wanted to mention Season (4???) of True Blood, reading The Captain brought it to my mind, but I honestly have not watched it recently enough to really dive into it. Either way. If you liked Flynn’s The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands give either of these two titles a chance for a similar reading.


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