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After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story

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3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,767 Ratings  ·  911 Reviews
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, h ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Scribner
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S.
Apr 08, 2013 S. rated it really liked it
This is not an amazing story; it is the telling of it that is.
Michael Hainey lost his father, a copy editor at a Chicago newspaper, when he was six, and, like a lot of families, his didn't discuss it further. They took the official version at face value and got on with it. But a boy who loses his father can never really just get on with it. Using his skills a journalist, Hainey goes on to find out the story of who is father was and how he died. While Hainey doggedly follows his need to know, he
...more
Carmen
Mar 28, 2016 Carmen rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who love Chicago. Polish-Americans. Newspapermen and newspaperwomen.
Michael Hainey is a journalist. He starts looking into his father's death when he is in his mid-thirties. The various obituaries are not meshing. He approaches this whole thing as a journalist - as an investigative reporter. The crux of the matter is (view spoiler)

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- The book is boring. I would be fascinated (FASCINATED) by this story if Hainey was my father or grandfather. I, of course, think family
...more
Aharon
Jul 30, 2013 Aharon rated it it was ok
One of those books. That tries to create a sense of poetry. Mystery. Drama. Through sentence fragments. And that maybe. Just maybe. Should have been. Nothing more than an article. In a magazine.
Terry
Mar 09, 2013 Terry rated it it was amazing
I learned about this book by watching an interview with Michael Hainey on the local Chicago PBS station, and was intrigued enough to order it right away. On so many levels this is a wonderful read. If you are interested in old style journalism and the role of a newspaper copy editor, the relationship of the press to the police, and the hard living in the night with the compartmentalization of family during the day, it is an amazing view into that world. For Chicagoans, it opens up a potpourri of ...more
Lou
Mar 13, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing
A family past revisited.
Tragedy in a death under questionable circumstances.
A son wants to find the truth and wants not to upset his mother in unraveling the past.
In this story of truth the author has give us a poignant and wonderful look into his life and strung it swell together in great words in the right places.
In his search he makes the reader look within his or her life, at the greater things that need to be taken account of.
He had me thoroughly captivated in this story.
Defiantly one not t
...more
Shannon
Mar 17, 2013 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I came upon After Visiting Friends accidentally. Well, not exactly accidentally. I picked it up from the library after my husband requested it. It was sitting on the sofa a few days ago and I picked it up and read the flap. Then I read the first chapter. Then I told my husband he would have to wait to read it. I was going to read it first. Luckily, he is an understanding man and the book was so intriguing that I finished it in about 2 days.

It's unlikely I would ever have requested this book from
...more
Sharon
May 12, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pacific-u-mfa
I wrote a review in The Nervous Breakdown, which begins:

I can’t write this review without disclosing that After Visiting Friends is my story. Or so it felt, as I read. Like Hainey, I am a member of what he calls the DFC, the Dead Father’s Club. Hainey was six when his father died at age 36 in Chicago. I was seven when my father died at 32 in Detroit. A veil of silence hung over the details throughout Hainey’s childhood. And mine.

I was mesmerized by this memoir, about a son reconstructing the lif
...more
Mark
Mar 21, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir

This is, hands down, one of the best books I've ever read.

Michael Hainey is a brilliant writer, and he has a fascinating story to tell that is made all the more moving by his own straightforward narrative style and the keep-it-inside-yourself emotional control of his mother.

When Michael was 6 and living in Chicago, his father, a copy editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, died of what was reported as a heart attack. The book's title comes from a line in the obits that ran in four of Chicago's papers,
...more
Gwen Owen
Apr 28, 2013 Gwen Owen rated it it was ok
I'm sorry the author was so distraught about the death of his father and the questions surrounding it, but the reality of the situation seemed obvious to me from the start, and it seemed to take a frustratingly long time for him to reach the inevitable conclusion. It might have been a better essay than book.
Darian G.
Feb 18, 2015 Darian G. rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
My kind of book. So many levels. So well written. After Visiting Friends is a journey and a passage. It is a discovery and a remembrance. This memoir by Michael Hainey chronicles his struggle to discover how his father died when he was just 6 years old. The story told to his mother, he and his brother just does not fit on many levels. Immediately after he begins to look into the death he discovers that, while his family was told that his father died on the street alone, the obituaries state his ...more
Scott
Mar 01, 2013 Scott rated it liked it
The set-up's rich with potential in this family memoir: when author Michael Hainey was six years old, his uncle showed up at their Chicago home one morning to tell everyone that his brother Bob--Michael's dad--was dead. Died of a heart attack, alone on the street, "after visiting friends" the night before. Bob was 35, a respected, hard-drinking night editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, and he left behind his lovely, taciturn wife, and two sons, including Michael. End of story. Though of course, not ...more
Nikki
This book was not quite what I expected after skimming a couple of reviews; I think it was even better.

Michael Hainey's father, a Chicago newspaperman, died in 1970 when the younger Hainey was six years old and his brother two years older. Little was said about him after that, or about the manner of his death -- just that he had had a heart attack at 35. As Michael grew up and became a journalist himself, various parts of the story did not add up. When he reached the age at which his father had
...more
Eve
Mar 03, 2013 Eve rated it it was amazing
I was moved to read this book after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. What drew me in was the present-day tense and fragmented cadence of the Chicago of my youth, a 1970s that suddenly is faded into a bittersweet memory unrecognizable by anyone who was not there. I read it often with a lump in my throat, recognizing the places and moments of the Northwest Side, sweeping along in the elegiac prose. And the story? That, too, is achingly perfect. Thank you, Michael Hainey. Five stars.
Deborah Klein
Apr 11, 2014 Deborah Klein rated it it was ok
Do not know how this book got the reviews it did. It is about as riveting as my Uncle Bob's war stories. If this were a movie, you'd see lots of meaningful glances, hard boiled "Mad Men" chatter, good time Susies and Sams, hear the swelling music, and see one lonely boy, trying to figure out his place in the world. Of course his Dad was the "best man in the business; the best I've ever known". His mother was the most beautiful girl in the newsroom. Otherwise, why write a book? But in fact, the a ...more
Gabriel
May 02, 2013 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
Told in sparse but wonderfully descriptive prose "After Visiting Friends" is required reading for anyone who lost a parent at a young age or is interested in reconnecting with a mom or dad after the lines of communication have been muted. The riveting tale of a son's search for the truth about the night his father died has applications for anyone who is interested in the distinction between truth and reality about the people that raised them. It's further devastating when one of those parents is ...more
Kristine Williams
Feb 20, 2013 Kristine Williams rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book on so many levels! It took me a chapter or two to fall into the rhythm of the narrative—but when I let go of watching for tense changes and sentence structure, the stream of consciousness writing made the story even more powerful. I loved seeing inside the lost world of old school newspaper journalism, where characters were celebrated instead of flattened into mass marketed uniformity, and where the honor code of the brotherhood was an ironbound reality. How I would love to ...more
Gail
Dec 31, 2013 Gail rated it liked it
With my life as a (former) journalist and fond memories of the profession (both good and bad), as soon as I heard the plot of this book, I was totally intrigued. After Visiting Friends tells the true story of a son (the author)'s attempts to uncover what really happened the night his father, Bob Hainey, a well-respected Chicago newspaperman, died mysteriously in 1970. Himself a reporter (and now around his father's age), Michael spent nearly a decade reporting for this book. His details in it ar ...more
Marianne
Feb 28, 2013 Marianne rated it it was amazing
There are a number of reasons why I picked up this book – I am a print journalist and while our office works differently, it was part of the story I knew I could relate to. The second reason I checked this story out was because of the main story line – son loses father then finds out years later that there was more to the story. Again, something that I could relate to as an adoptee who found out years later she was adopted.

What I am shocked to discover while reading books like this, is how it s
...more
Greg
Oct 28, 2012 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What makes this one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time is that it’s fundamentally a work of beautiful and unflinching reportage. After years of being obsessed over the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his father, a consummate Chicago newspaperman who was felled by an apparent heart attack at age 35, Hainey (who was six when it happened) digs deep into his family’s past to uncover the truth. He’s especially tipped off by one obituary that says his father died “after vis ...more
Sunny Shore
Apr 20, 2013 Sunny Shore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. The story of a family torn up by the mysterious death of the newspaperman father was so riveting. Michael Hainey, who was 6 when his dad was found on the street after supposedly dead from a heart attack at age 35, digs deep to tell the story of his family and how he went about finding the truth. How this death in 1970 changed everyone, how Hainey interviews people that his father knew, how a young boy can be changed in a single moment. Everything around him changed ...more
Tim
Mar 21, 2013 Tim rated it liked it
I'm a fan of mysteries involving journalists and/or journalism. I'd read the review of Michael Hainey's book in the New York Times and thought this would be an incredibly interesting read — a son trying to unravel the mystery surrounding his newspaperman father's death.

While Hainey's writing style is crisp and engaging, I just couldn't get into the "hunt for the truth." Perhaps I expected the truth to be much more interesting, and I guess there's not much Hainey can do about that lest he want to
...more
Mary Lou
Apr 27, 2013 Mary Lou rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
After Visiting Friends A Son’s Story by Michael Hainey is much like a suspense or mystery novel in that the author is searching for the facts about his father’s death, something that has puzzled him ever since it happened when he was six. By the time he graduates from high school, he knows that his father’s death certificate and multiple obituaries are incongruent. One write-up says nothing about the circumstances of the death, another says it was on the street after he left a friend’s home, and ...more
Squirrel Circus
Feb 18, 2013 Squirrel Circus rated it it was amazing
The best indicator of how much I liked this book is the fact that I finished it about 48 hours after receiving it from the publisher (thanks to Early Reviewers!). I read it at work, standing up in the kitchen while making dinner, and in the carpool line to pick up the kids at school. Seriously. It's that much of a page turner. Michael Hainey has a talent for storytelling and has perfected the slow reveal. He draws nuanced portraits of his family and of the newspaper "game" in 1960s Chicago, whic ...more
Ellen Kobe
Jan 13, 2014 Ellen Kobe rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ellen by: NPR
Michael Hainey's story is incredible on many levels. As a reader, I became completely invested in his story, which I think is one of the greatest challenges memoir/personal creative nonfiction authors have. As a journalist, I found this book extremely interesting as he does investigative reporting on himself. Half of the book was researched based, and I enjoyed seeing his strategies for digging up his family's past.

Furthermore, Hainey is the kind of writer we should all strive to be: descriptive
...more
Minty McBunny
Apr 18, 2013 Minty McBunny rated it it was amazing
I read a review of this book in EW and promptly put myself in the queue for it at my library. Then I waited for months until I finally got my hands on it this week. My wait was not in vain!

This story is told so simply, but the longing of Michael Hainey for any scrap of his father is evident in every word. I had visible chills several times while reading it & I found myself tearing up quite a bit in places as well. It's not only a document of a young man's search for the truth about his fathe
...more
Lincoln
Feb 20, 2013 Lincoln rated it really liked it
This is a damn good book - depressing and sad to journey thru but beautifully crafted, researched and presented. We all create narratives on who we think our parents are - and ignore the obvious flaws and demons which surely they face and have.

The book is also a revealing portrait of a world of journalism, of a Mad Men styled old boys network who took care of each other and made sure the right stories get told about individuals, even though they are not wholly true.

Read this in one sitting, ju
...more
Cindy
Jun 20, 2013 Cindy rated it it was ok
Not to spoil the ending but I expected more of a revelation to the ending. I mean, you know the author is searching for how his father really died but ehh, not that much to it. It was ok though. I liked reading about 60s and early 70s Chicago.
Jenny
Jan 15, 2014 Jenny rated it it was amazing
I really loved this. Dad, you should read it.
Judy
May 16, 2013 Judy rated it liked it
Well, I love memoirs and mysteries, and this was really neither, although reviews led me to believe it would be. Yes, it was well-written, and the author's evocative writing brought me to the Midwest, mid-20th century. Hainey vividly captures the life and work of journalists, back when the profession more than existed, it flourished and meant something. His writing is spare, his story focused. But I found it a difficult read, not all that compelling or conclusive. However, I pushed through and t ...more
Sam Sattler
May 08, 2013 Sam Sattler rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, memoir
Michael Hainey was barely six years old when his 35-year-old father was found dead on a deserted Chicago street. Consequently, most of what Hainey knows about his father came to him second-hand via stories and "facts" delivered by his mother, older brother, and other relatives and friends of his father.

Bob Hainey, Michael's father, truly was the stereotypical Hollywood version of a big city newspaperman. Hard drinking, chain smoking, regularly working to the early hours of the morning, he was a
...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: After Visiting Friends by Micheal Hainey 1 11 Aug 23, 2015 07:35AM  
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Michael Hainey was born in Chicago. He has sold fruits and vegetables; worked as a laborer on a road-repair crew; been a dish-washer; cooked cafeteria food; and sold men's clothes. For the last few years, he has been a magazine writer and editor. Currently, he is the deputy editor of GQ. He lives in Manhattan.
More about Michael Hainey...

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“The past gives you no justice. Sentences are passed. But that doesn't mean you get justice. You can stand there forever and rail and say, 'Someone has to pay. I want what was taken from me.' But you're just going to get silence coming back at you. The past doesn't pay. We pay. And we're all free to decide when we've had enough.” 11 likes
“Fear is the trick of the enemy. And your enemy comes in many robes. But he has only one face. You know his face. You've seen it many times. You need not fear it. In your heart, you know you will triumph and you will defeat your enemy with the one weapon that you have inside you that he cannot touch--truth.” 6 likes
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