Late journalist’s memoir wrestles with legacy of her father, an esteemed Chronicle books editor


Eric Newton goes by letters written to longtime Chronicle books editor Invoice Hogan at Hogan’s outdated residence on Circle Manner in Mill Valley. Newton has simply accomplished “Circle Manner,” the unfinished memoir by his late spouse, Mary Ann Hogan, Invoice Hogan’s daughter. Picture: Samantha Laurey / The Chronicle

Only a few weeks earlier than Jack Kerouac revealed his confessional road-trip epic “On the Highway” in the summertime of 1957, he despatched a typewritten letter to The Chronicle’s books editor Invoice Hogan. Kerouac hoped the esteemed literary critic would pay attention to his stream-of-consciousness second novel, which he described as a “a real story concerning the Beat Technology.”

“I at all times learn your column,” Kerouac complimented Hogan, who was a robust, but humble, self-taught arbiter of literary style.

Hogan had grown up in Piedmont, wrote his first e-book overview as a UC Berkeley scholar and joined the newspaper employees in 1946 as a author, working as a theater critic at one level. Because the books editor, he wrote each day concerning the vagaries of the e-book world and was recognized for championing new voices — Kurt Vonnegut and Joan Didion, amongst many others — till his retirement in 1982.

This letter is framed, beside one from one other famed author, Alex Haley, and nonetheless hangs on the wall of Hogan’s outdated research within the modest, light-filled Mid-Century Trendy residence he and his spouse, Phyllis, inbuilt 1950 on a quiet Mill Valley road, Circle Manner. It’s the identical residence their daughter, Mary Ann Hogan, an achieved options author for the Oakland Tribune, and syndicated Los Angeles Instances essayist, spent her total childhood in —  calling it “the home that cradled me.”

“Circle Manner” can also be, fittingly, the title of Mary Ann’s posthumously revealed memoir, out on Tuesday, Feb. 15, which her husband, fellow journalist and media educator Eric Newton, accomplished throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Eric Newton holds his spouse’s memoir, which he accomplished after her demise in 2019. Picture: Samantha Laurey / The Chronicle

Mary Ann died in June 2019, roughly a yr after being identified with a uncommon type of lymphatic most cancers. She and her husband labored on the e-book intently collectively till her demise, with Newton finally writing an emotionally shifting foreword and ultimate chapter himself.

“It’s a e-book about e-book folks for e-book folks,” Newton advised The Chronicle throughout a current interview in his sunny yard, steps from the small studio the place his father-in-law would retreat to jot down, learn, draw and paint. (Invoice Hogan was a devoted artist in his later years). And but, regardless of his finest intentions, he was by no means was capable of write a e-book himself.

When Invoice died in 1996, Mary Ann discovered within the studio his stacks of paint-speckled private notebooks. Revealed inside these pages was a person with a eager reward for language, but who doubted himself and suffered from what we’d now name impostor syndrome.

“In my father’s notebooks, he sees himself as smaller than life, uncertain, susceptible,” Mary Ann writes.

He titled one pocket book entry “Books That By no means Acquired Written.”

Eric Newton reveals a watercolor portray by his late father-in-law, Invoice Hogan, that was revealed in “Circle Manner.” Picture: Samantha Laurey / The Chronicle

Many years within the making, “Circle Manner” started as an easy journalist’s profession memoir. However as Mary Ann delved into her household tree — relationship again to her great-grandfather Hugh Hogan, a West Coast lumber baron who helped construct town of Oakland — she wound up doing one thing much more susceptible and expressive.

“Circle Manner” is a collage of vignettes drawn from each Mary Ann’s and Invoice’s lives, a hybrid of journalism and poetry, father and daughter. It’s additionally a multigenerational reflection on writing, household and the thorny query of future, significantly whether or not a mum or dad’s unrealized desires may be handed all the way down to the following technology.

“Invoice was on this very highly effective place as a gatekeeper in conventional media, writing for a serious newspaper. What number of phrases do you write if it’s 750 phrases a day, for 5 days every week or extra, for 30 years? That’s plenty of phrases,” Newton mentioned. “But, he at all times thought he wasn’t adequate” to jot down a e-book himself.

Eric Newton reveals a photograph of Mary Ann Hogan and himself on their wedding ceremony day. Picture: Samantha Laurey / The Chronicle

Mary Ann additionally struggled to jot down a memoir, regardless of her copious output as an essayist, her quite a few awards and accolades for coaching a whole bunch of Chips Quinn Students, one of many nation’s prime packages for college-age journalists of coloration.

“Mary Ann puzzled, might there be some inherited cause why her father couldn’t do his e-book, and she or he couldn’t do her e-book? She’d say, ‘Was one thing rolled down the generations to me?’” Newton recalled.

Mary Ann finally labored by her author’s block by doing the private work of attending to know her father and her colourful forebears — together with her great-uncle Howard Hogan, who served time for manslaughter in San Quentin earlier than turning into a Dallas doctor — and thereby herself.

“She was very a lot her father’s daughter,” mentioned Newton, remarking on his late spouse’s unimaginable reward for phrases in addition to her at instances crippling self-doubt.

Mary Ann Hogan Picture: Wonderwell

Trying over a field of Invoice’s saved information clippings, correspondence and art work, Newton defined that the memoir’s uncommon format, consisting of sketches and snippets of reminiscences, was dictated by “Mary Ann’s beliefs within the nature of reminiscence itself,” which is slippery, nonlinear, unwittingly poetic.

“Invoice was a giant booster of Vonnegut, and ‘Slaughterhouse-5’ was written in vignettes that bounced forwards and backwards in time and house. Invoice may very well be like that himself,” Newton mentioned. “Generally he would sit in entrance of the hearth right here after we had household dinners and inform a narrative about World Struggle II. Then the following story would have one thing to do with James Baldwin.”

“Circle Manner” features a description of Invoice’s interview with Baldwin in 1963, throughout a flight above Utah. Then in one other spectacular anecdote, younger Joan Didion was on the cusp of publishing “Slouching In direction of Bethlehem” when she nervously rang up Invoice and requested whether or not she might cease by The Chronicle newsroom on Mission Avenue to debate her now-esteemed essays.

Eric Newton goes by letters saved by Invoice Hogan on the home in Mill Valley. Picture: Samantha Laurey / The Chronicle

Didion’s husband, John Gregory Dunne, wrote Invoice afterward to let him understand how a lot she appreciated their assembly, calling it “a real act of kindness that you just did.”

Newton promised Mary Ann in her ultimate days that he would full her memoir, her “unfinished life’s work,” and see “Circle Manner” by to publication. He will get choked up studying aloud from the foreword he wrote in August: “On February 14, 2019, 4 months earlier than she died, my spouse left a card on my nightstand. It requested, ‘Will you be my Valentine yet another time and without end?’

“The reply is in these pages.”

Circle Manner: A Daughter’s Memoir, a Author’s Journey Residence
By Mary Ann Hogan
(Wonderwell; 232 pages; $29)

O’Hanlon Middle for the Arts presents e-book studying of “Circle Manner”: Eric Newton, the widower of creator Mary Ann Hogan, will learn from the memoir and reply questions. In particular person. 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17. Free; proof of vaccination and masks required. 616 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley.

E book Passage: Newton will learn from the memoir and reply questions. In particular person. 1 p.m. March 12. Free; masks required. 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera.

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