After Visiting Friends

"After Visiting Friends" by Michael Hainey

Michael Hainey was six years old when his father died suddenly. This loss cast a shadow over his childhood and haunted him well into adulthood. Hainey felt unsettled about the event, often doubting that his father was really dead. When he was eighteen, he looked up his father's obituaries and found reports that his father had died after visiting friends. This brief phrase prompts Hainey to undertake a search for answers about his father's death and becomes the title of his memoir.

In "After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story" Hainey writes beautifully about how his personality was shaped by growing up without a father. After following in his father's footsteps into newspaper reporting, Hainey uses his skills on the great mystery of his own life. His story includes details from the inner workings of Chicago newspapers and meditations on the secrecy of families. Although the story is often sad, Hainey adds the odd humorous detail here and there. My favorite was his mother emptying the automatic ice maker into the sink each night before bed to keep the ice fresh.

Michael Hainey will speak about his memoir at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18 at Library Headquarters.

--Jennifer A., Headquarters

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