Monday, March 18, 2013

by Michael Hainey

When Michael Hainey was six, his father, Bob, died. He was found on a street far from home, alone, in Chicago. Heart attack was the determining cause. Only thirty-five years old, Bob was the night slot man (newspaper term) for the Sun-Times and was responsible for getting three editions of the paper out between the hours of 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. Obviously, the job was stressful and to relieve it, Bob was on Valium. Everybody smoked up a storm and drank tons of alcohol. (After working long hours, the guys would all hit the bars.)
As Michael grew up, he started to question about what had happened to his father. His death was such a mystery. Everything was a big secret. He couldn't get anything out of his mother; she was emotionless. She needed strength just to look forward in raising her boys as a widow.
By the time Michael is an adult, his obsession with seeking out the truth to connect the dots no matter what it might do to his family is a constant. He is a reporter and knows the skills that are needed. From endless questioning of his relatives to seeking out colleagues of his father, Michael finally receives what he is looking for.
Michael Hainey is one heck of a writer. The story is powerful and gripping. It's one of these books that is impossible to put down. He writes with such honesty and beauty. You read about family (their past), the old newspaper world (they have a coda of sticking together), how he went about his investigation, and what he found.
Hainey is the deputy editor of GQ. This is his first book and I hope it's not his last. Truly tremendous writing.
Very highly recommended.