Subgenre Alert! Will GQ Editor’s Book Join the Drugs-Dads-Journalism School of Memoir?

via A Continuous Lean

GQ deputy editor Michael Hainey is shopping a memoir called After Visiting Friends, which investigates the mysterious and early death of his father, the precocious Chicago Sun-Times assistant copy chief Bob Hainey.

“He was a newspaper man—and that meant living like one—booze-soaked nights that trickled into dawn,” notes the submission letter.

“And then he was gone, leaving behind a fractured family and questions surrounding the mysterious nature of his death that would gently nip at Michael through adolescence and long into adulthood until, finally, their insistence demanded that he find their answers.”

It sounded a little familiar to us.

“It’s a shabby representation of what the book is,” said William Morris Endeavor agent Bill Clegg, agent to Mr. Hainey and author of the submission letter.

But wasn’t there maybe a subgenre forming—a trend of journalists-turned-memoirists writing about journalism, drugs and their dads? There was 2004’s Lads, by David Itzkoff (Maxim and ecstasy), 2009’s The Night of the Gun, by David Carr (newspapers, crack and fatherhood) and the other David Itzkoff memoir (his dad, cocaine), which came out last year.

“You’re saying that,” said Mr. Clegg. “You don’t need me to confirm that.”

Last year Mr. Clegg published a memoir of his own, about how drug addiction contributed to the demise of his boutique literary agency. It was called Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man.

We consulted Mr. Itzkoff.

“It’s eerie and unfortunate that so many of us would have addiction stories in our backgrounds,” he said. “Whether it’s the author himself or our fathers, it’s completely understandable to want to dive into those tales using the skills you’ve developed as a journalist.”

It doesn’t hurt that the members of this club have a platform for translating their shared personal expertise into reviews of each other’s work.

If published, the memoir will be another feather in Mr. Hainey’s cap. The editor, who did not respond to The Observer’s request for comment, has had poems published in Tin House and paintings hung in menswear designer Thom Browne’s store.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated. The text quoted is not from the book proposal’s cover letter, as was written. It is from the submission letter to the full manuscript, which Mr. Clegg says does not contain drugs. Besides alcohol, presumably.


Subgenre Alert! Will GQ Editor’s Book Join the Drugs-Dads-Journalism School of Memoir?