In one year, Mark Millhone’s younger son almost died from birth complications; his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer; his mother died from a heart attack; his dog bit his older son’s face, leaving a scar; and his marriage to his wife, Rose, was slowly falling apart.
He bought a 1994 BMW on eBay: an attempt to escape from the life he was living.
Mr. Milhone—a filmmaker, screenwriting professor at NYU and columnist for Men’s Health—just published a memoir about that hellish year called The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances (Rodale).
Leaning against a white wall in a penthouse apartment on West 12th Street, the kind of apartment you know is going to be grand and fancy before you even enter, Mr. Millhone said that writing the book is what got him through the tough time. “It really brought me closer to my family and friends,” he said, as his two young sons grabbed athis legs. “I feel very lucky in that way.”
Actress Kristen Johnson was walking around the clean, marble-trimmed apartment in a black dress and Tory Burch flats. She was accompanied by her dog, Tinky, who “has been so upset recently when I leave him home, so now I try and bring him everywhere.”
Smoking a cigarette on the windy terrace (in a scene eerily reminiscent of her Sex and the City appearance), Ms. Johnson said she’d conquered her own demons. “I’ve become a shopping addict, because I quit drinking,” she said. “I quit doing all sorts of nefarious activities. I go to Home Depot and spend all of my money. I’ve become this crazy home lady, craft lady. I have two glue guns! I make these huge mirrors I give to my friends. I mean, I was like, what do people do when they quit drinking?“
Mr. Millhone’s wife, meanwhile, seemed only stronger for her annus horribilus.
“I met Mark and now I have luck,” she said.