MICHAEL HAINEY / After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story
Michael Hainey’s father died when he was six years old. At the age of thirty-six, Bob Hainey was found dead, alone near his car, on Chicago’s North Side. Years later, in his early twenties, Michael looked up his father’s obituaries, and they didn’t seem to tell the same story. “Died After Visiting Friends,” one said. What friends? How? The ten years Hainey spent searching for answers are chronicled in the haunting After Visiting Friends. .
In his quest for the truth about his father’s life and death, Hainey beautifully conjures a Chicago of a bygone era -- when the city had five thriving papers, each with its own designated bar where the staffers drank and told stories -- a world which Bob Hainey, a newspaper man through and through, knew all too well.
At its heart, though, Hainey’s is a moving account of one man’s attempt to uncover hisfamily’s long-buried secrets. Combining his journalist’s investigative skills and his poet’s ear for language, Michael Hainey vividly renders his search, both factually and existentially, for the truth about his father, in the process renewing and deepening his relationship with his mother.
“Michael Hainey's After Visiting Friends is my sort of book, a Chicago book,a family book of secrets. The powerful mystery at the heart of this story willpull you through to the moving ending, but its Hainey's straightforward andharrowing honesty that will grip you and stay with you.There's great dignity in the way Hainey treats his people, and this lost story.”
-- Peter Orner, author of Love and Shame and Love
“A book whose heartbreak and humor, in the true Irish tradition, can't be untangled. It's a kind of detective story, but the mystery is the past itself.”
-- John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“Is there any more powerful story in the world than a boy looking for his father? Michael Hainey's memoir begins with a mysterious death, proceeds through years of unanswered questions, builds into a relentless investigation, and ends with the stubborn alchemy of a heart transformed. This is a beautiful work of reporting and redemption. Parts of this story will stay with me forever. I finished it in tears."
-- Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed
"We all have unanswered questions about our family's past, although they aren't always as stark as the ones Michael Hainey faced--and few of us are likely to take on the role of investigative journalist so thoroughly to find our answers. Hainey's candor in After Visiting Friends, especially about the self-doubt and frustration that accompany his quest, makes it easy for us to root for him--not just in the search for truth but in the emotional transformation that comes with it."
Michael Hainey is the deputy editor of GQ and has been with the magazine for 10 years. His poetry has appeared in Tin House, amongst other places. Hainey attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and currently lives in New York City.
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