Tuesday, June 24, 2014

After Visiting Friends, Michael Hainey

After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story


Michael Hainey

Category: Nonfiction: Memoir; Death

Synopsis: Hainey goes in search of the truth of his father’s death thirty years after his passing.

Date finished: 27 May 2014

Rating: ****

Things don’t add up in the story of how newspaperman Bob Hainey died. When his son Michael was growing up, no one talked about it, but he’s collected clues. Newspaper stories conflict, and the deeper he goes with his investigation (he grew up to be a journalist, too), the more doors are shut in his face. Newspapermen of the 1960s/1970s stick together. They cover up what needs to be.

But Michael finds the truth. His cousin has pieced it together (it was his father, Michael’s uncle—also a newspaperman—who created the cover up), and Michael finds the occasional person who’s willing to talk about what happened that night. The answer isn’t necessarily a revelation. You pretty much guess it from the very beginning. At least, I did. But I did enjoy following the breadcrumbs to the whole truth.

This was a well-written memoir. It was even and well-paced. It wasn’t sentimental. But my main problem with it was that when Hainey finally finds what he’s looking for, and finally arrives at closure, he doesn’t discuss what’s going through his mind. I was left wondering, but how does he feel about this? Does it change how he thinks about his father? Does the truth hurt as much as not knowing?

This is the trouble with journalists writing memoir, in my opinion. They tell a great story, but they are so trained to be objective they’re unable to engage in an emotional way. In this case, he seemed emotionally engaged up until the end, but I needed something to pull it all together.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
It was worth the read.

You might also enjoy:
When We Were the Kennedys

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