Michael Hainey is the deputy editor of GQ and author of the 2013 memoir, After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story, about his father's mysterious death with the author as six years old.
From Hainey's Q & A with Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: Why is it so important to understand the lives of our parents?--Marshal Zeringue
A: We forget that our identities, our narrative stories that we used to tell ourselves who they are, are bound up in our parents' identities and their stories.
To know our own identify, to know our own stories, I've learned that you have to go into that past, into your parents' past. If you don't know their story, you don't know your story.
Q: What was going through your mind as you launched this detective story, not knowing whether it would hurt you, your mother and brother, or other people?
A: As I say in the book, we all say we want the truth, but that doesn't mean everyone else wants it. I had a lot of fear, and it held me back in different ways and different times.
Q: Did you feel like you were bearing witness to lives lived?
A: I wanted to bear witness to everyone in the book.
I tried very hard to honor everyone living and not living. I wanted to treat anyone I encountered with compassion and humanity: this is a life lived.
Q: You interviewed people who vividly remembered personalities and conversations from more than four decades ago. Were you surprised how they remembered so much?
A: I wasn't...[read on]