Photo credit: Sigrid Estrada
Bryan learned to play hockey on backyard rinks in the Detroit area where he grew up. Today he plays at Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago, and each year makes the pilgrimage to Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Canada, for the World Pond Hockey championship. It was at this tournament that Gruley coined the all-too-true phrase, “Life is good when you can skate into the beer tent.”
He and his two brothers and three sisters spent many weekends at their parents’ cottage on Big Twin Lake in northern Michigan. Bryan had his first newspaper job at the nearby Bellaire News in the summer of 1978.
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1979, Bryan worked for newspapers in Brighton, Howell, Kalamazoo and Detroit, Michigan, before joining The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Bureau in 1995.
He was won numerous awards for his writing and reporting. With dispatches from dozens of his Journal colleagues, he wrote one of the front-page stories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that won the Journal a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. “War Stories,” his November 25, 2003, tale about a black World War II lieutenant who saved a young Holocaust victim, was an alternate finalist in the Pulitzer feature writing category.
Bryan is the author of a prize-winning non-fiction book, Paper Losses: A Modern Epic of Greed and Betrayal at America’s Two Largest Newspaper Companies. (Grove Atlantic, 1993) He’s also an amateur musician who sings, plays guitar, and composes his own songs. They include For A Son, which he wrote after the 2002 death of his friend and Journal colleague, Danny Pearl.
Bryan’s first novel, Starvation Lake, is the first in a series of mysteries set in the fictional northern Michigan town of Starvation Lake. There is indeed a lake named Starvation in Michigan, where Gruley has spent more than a few evenings with friends at the semi-famous Hide-A-Way Bar. There is no such town. While calling the book a memoir might help sales, Bryan says it is pure fiction: “None of this stuff ever happened to me, thank God.”
He lives in Chicago with his wife, Pam. They have three grown children, Joel, Kaitlin and Danielle.