Synopses & Reviews
This haunting story of a son’s quest to understand the mystery of his father’s death is “searing and unforgettable…memoir writing at its best” (San Francisco Chronicle
)—a “powerfully affecting” (O, The Oprah Magazine
) portrait of a family and its legacy of secrets.
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. 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 haunt Michael long into adulthood.
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. At the heart of his quest is Michael’s all-too-silent mother, a woman of great courage and tenacity—and a steely determination not to look back. Prodding his relatives, and working through a network of his father’s buddies, 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 love and admiration for his mother. After Visiting Friends “begins with a mysterious death and ends with the alchemy of a heart transformed. I finished it in tears” (Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things).
“Family? Secrets? Sometimes I think they are the same thing.” So writes Michael Hainey in this unforgettable story of a son’s search to discover the decades-old truth about his father’s mysterious death. Hainey was a boy of six when his father, a bright and shining star in the glamorous, hard-living world of 1960s Chicago newspapers, died under mysterious circumstances. His tragic absence left behind not only a young widow and two small sons but questions about family and truth that would obsess Michael for decades.
Years later, Michael undertakes a risky journey to uncover the true story about what happened to his father. Prodding reluctant relatives and working through a network of his father’s old colleagues, Michael begins to reconcile the father he lost with the one he comes to know. At the heart of his quest is his mother, a woman of courage and tenacity—and a steely determination to press on with her life. A universal story of love and loss and the resilience of family in the face of hardship, After Visiting Friends is the account of a son who goes searching for his father, and in the journey discovers new love and admiration for his mother.
About the Author
Michael Hainey is the deputy editor of GQ. He was born in Chicago and now lives in Manhattan.