Michael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family's back door one morning with the tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael's father, was found alone near his car on Chicago's North Side, dead, of an apparent heart attack. Read more...
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More About After Visiting Friends by Michael HaineyOverviewA decade in the writing, the haunting story of a son's quest to understand the mystery of his father's death--a universal memoir about the secrets families keep and the role they play in making us who we are.
Michael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family's back door one morning with the tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael's father, was found alone near his car on Chicago's North Side, dead, of an apparent heart attack. Thirty-five years old, a young assistant copy desk chief at the "Chicago Sun-Times," Bob was a bright and shining star in the competitive, hard-living world of newspapers, one that involved booze-soaked nights that bled into dawn. And then suddenly he was gone, leaving behind a young widow, two sons, a fractured family--and questions surrounding the mysterious nature of his death that would obsess Michael throughout adolescence and long into adulthood. Finally, roughly his father's age when he died, and a seasoned reporter himself, Michael set out to learn what happened that night. Died "after visiting friends," the obituaries said. But the details beyond that were inconsistent. What friends? Where? At the heart of his quest is Michael's all-too-silent, opaque mother, a woman of great courage and tenacity--and a steely determination not to look back. Prodding and cajoling his relatives, and working through a network of his father's buddies who abide by an honor code of silence and secrecy, Michael sees beyond the long-held myths and ultimately reconciles the father he'd imagined with the one he comes to know--and in the journey discovers new truths about his mother.
A stirring portrait of a family and its legacy of secrets, "After Visiting Friends" is the story of a son who goes in search of the truth and finds not only his father, but a rare window into a world of men and newspapers and fierce loyalties that no longer exists.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-01-07
- Reviewer: Staff
Six-year-old Hainey woke one morning to a knock on the door of his family’s house in Chicago; Hainey’s uncle delivered the news that Michael’s 35-year-old father, Bob, a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, had been found dead of an apparent heart attack. What happened to him? Why had he been out so late and not at home? Bob Hainey’s obituary indicates that the newspaperman was visiting friends; who were these friends? In this heartfelt memoir, Hainey painfully reconstructs the few years he recalls with his father and painstakingly searches for clues that might help him understand his father’s death. When he turns 35, Hainey sets off on a quest to interview as many of his father’s friends as will talk to him, to review all the published details of his father’s death, and to discover what his father was really like. Along the way, “instead of conjuring my father dying alone, he sees this alternate, secret narrative: him, friends, far from home, late at night....” Eventually, he discovers a disturbing secret that his mother has long kept silent, grappling to understand this new dimension of his parents’ lives and resigning himself to having discovered a side of his father he never knew. (Feb.)