After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story by Michael Hainey, I found by accident when a friend posted a short article on fb about it. I requested my library purchase it. (I love doing that!)
Michael Hainey's father died when he was 6 and afterward he felt he could not talk about it. His mother and family, in their grief, had a kind of conspiracy of silence about that night and about the man. So for years he lived with this wonder of who his father was and how he died that night in 1972. When Michael finally begins to seek out answers, he delves deep into the Chicago newspaper world of the 1960's and 1970's: a fascinating time and a fascinating place.
His work takes him to hospitals and morgues and all over the city. It takes him back to his father's hometown in Nebraska and to a small town in Ohio. It takes him to San Francisco and he even meets a few people in Kentucky, New York and Wisconsin. He meets long forgotten family members and newspaper colleagues of his fathers. He meets the sadness of a life cut way too short.
It is beautiful writing and an amazing tribute to a time, a place, a family, and a person or rather several people. I loved everything about this book: the writer's pacing and sensibility. His honesty and his self-revelation. I loved how much he loved his mother and family and how much getting to know his father after all these years meant to him. All the passages about his childhood and adulthood and his unraveling the past felt poignant and purposeful. He wove all the stories of his life and his parents' lives together quite skillfully. I read it in two days. His last line in the book was the ultimate: "I went searching for my father and I found my mother."
I am pretty sure I heard him interviewed on Fresh Air about this book as well, and here is the original article from the Chicago Reader that got me started. I highly recommend this memoir.