Today at Great New Books, we have the pleasure of hosting guest contributor Dianne Dixon, author of THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY.
Thanks to Dianne and her publisher, Sourcebooks, we have one copy of The Book of Someday to give away to one lucky commenter at the end of this post (details below). Thank you, Dianne, for joining us at Great New Books and sharing one of your favorite reads with us today!
Author Dianne Dixon, on one of her recent favorite books:
After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey
“Tell me a story.” It’s something every, single one of us has said. As adults, we’re saying it every time we begin reading a new book. As children, we repeated it every day: “Tell me a story.”
At first, we were content with one-size-fits-all picture book stories, Goodnight Moon and Goldilocks. But it didn’t take long before the standard, off the shelf stuff wasn’t enough—we instinctively wanted something richer, deeper, more personal. That’s when we started saying, “Tell me a different kind of story. Tell me my story. Tell me about how I got here, and how much you love me.”
Right after that, we began to say to our parents, “Tell me your story. Tell me about what you were like when you were my age. Tell me about who you were, who you loved, and who loved you.” And what we were really saying was, “I need to understand who I am. I don’t know how to do that without understanding the people who made me.”
This basic human need that we all share—the desire to know the truth about our parents—is at the heart of Michael Hainey’s After Visiting Friends. It’s one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in a long, long time. A rare find. A memoir that moves at the compelling pace of a superbly crafted mystery.
With the spare grace of a poet, Hainey recounts the story of his father, a well-known Chicago newspaperman who is there and then suddenly gone. Dead. When Hainey was only six years old. The cryptic police report simply said that his father died, at night, after visiting friends.
Hainey’s book is the story of a son’s search for the truth about his father. It’s a page turning exploration of the facts and fictions, and the secrets and silences in family relationships—it goes to the essence of how the blank spaces between our parents and ourselves can forever alter who we are as human beings.
I never knew my father, and this book touched a very tender place in me. The place where, for a lifetime, I alternately yearned for and hated the man who made me. Reading Michael Hainey’s story caused me to reevaluate what I thought I knew, and didn’t know, about my own missing father. It also made me understand that none of us can ever fully know our parents—and that that’s okay—because in spite of those gaps we can go on loving them anyway.
After Visiting Friends is a powerfully insightful look at family. It not only tells an unforgettable story, it also lays out a roadmap, pointing the way toward forgiveness. And that’s an amazing gift!
To enter the drawing to win the copy of Dianne Dixon’s novel, THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY, leave a comment (any comment) below, from Wednesday, October 23 until Friday, October 25 at midnight Eastern time.
Great New Books will email the winner individually and announce it in the comments on Saturday, October 26. (Entries for the Continental US only, please.) As always, thanks for helping us to spread the word and thank you for joining us!