Good day, relentless readers! July is coming to a close, and I’m here to wrap it up. Things have been incredibly… incredible? Smarter people than I have written commentary on the times, and I encourage you to seek them out. As for myself, I’m doing some personal work, having important (sometimes uncomfortable) conversations, and trying to put my money where my mouth is (sometimes literal money, but not always). Every bookish person I know has purchased books on combating racism. I do hope that we do the work that those books suggest. Let’s remember that this isn’t a bookstagram trend. Citizens are hurting and need our help. Check in on your people. Hold your other people to a higher standard. Remember to take care of yourself as well.
Now, for the books! Here’s what I read in July:
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
Monogamy by Sue Miller
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (This was not #OwnVoices which was a disappointment. I’ll be more careful in the future.)
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (Let’s get nostalgic and read a childhood favorite! How I wish I hadn’t because it was not good. Fat jokes, anyone?)
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (This will be a new obsession I’m quite sure.)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Weather by Jenny Offill
For anyone keeping track that’s 8 fiction and 4 non-fiction. I’m pleased with the reading I did this month. Once again most of my books are audio. I’ve learned a bit about my learning styles, and I’m an auditory gal. I am much more likely to remember things if I’ve heard them. It only took me 40-some years to figure that out!
I hope your July was smashing, I’d love to hear about it. As always, WEAR A MASK!
Publication Date: February 2013
Categories: Literary, Personal Memoirs
A decade in the writing, the haunting story of a son’s quest to understand the mystery of his father’s death—a universal memoir about the secrets families keep and the role they play in making us who we are.
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, one that involved booze-soaked nights that bled into dawn. 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 obsess Michael throughout adolescence and long into adulthood.
Finally, roughly his father’s age when he died, and 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. What friends? Where? At the heart of his quest is Michael’s all-too-silent, opaque mother, a woman of great courage and tenacity—and a steely determination not to look back. Prodding and cajoling his relatives, and working through a network of his father’s buddies who abide by an honor code of silence and secrecy, 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 truths about his mother.
A stirring portrait of a family and its legacy of secrets, After Visiting Friends is the story of a son who goes in search of the truth and finds not only his father, but a rare window into a world of men and newspapers and fierce loyalties that no longer exists.
Thank you to Scribner for sending me this wonderfully written and illuminating memoir. Thank you to Michael Hainey for sharing his deeply personal story with all of us.