Griffin Dunne on his new memoir and the death of his sister Dominique

On a cool April afternoon in the East Village, Griffin Dunne walks through a portal into his past. He climbed the stairs of an East Village building too old for elevators despite its gentrified sheen. The hallways are narrow but clean and the doors look modern, new — until we arrive at the apartment we are looking for. Layers of peeling paint bear witness to the passage of decades. The threshold is uneven – an entrance into an era of sloping wooden floors, fire escape decks and closet-sized bathrooms. Inside, hats of fantastic shapes and sizes dot the blue walls, and everywhere there are books and flyers about Blondie, the Pyramid Club, Candy Darling, David Wojnarowicz, and more. Here is a performance artist’s habitat, impeccably preserved for decades and in fact, it is still very much in use.

Because he’s trying to help his daughter, actress Hannah Dunne, find the coveted Manhattan treasure — a sublet with perhaps some legal gray areas — I won’t reveal birth or stage name of the occupant. Let’s just say we fell down a rabbit hole and landed in what might be a setting for Griffin’s most famous acting role, that of the hapless Paul Hackett stumbling through an inner-city dystopia in Martin Scorsese’s 1985 . After hours.

“It was so 1990s!” Dunne talks about the apartment. Back on the street, we pass Tompkins Square Park. The actor-director-producer and now famous author frowned in excitement.

“It was like we were going back in time. Hannah will love this.

Griffin Dunne, 69, knows how to turn back time. He has spent the last two years researching and writing The Friday Afternoon Club: A Family Memory, a disturbing and hilarious account of his upbringing in a wealthy Hollywood dynasty. His father was Dominick “Nick” Dunne, the Vanity Fair famous scribe and author; his mother was Mexican-American heiress Ellen “Lenny” Beatriz Griffin; his uncle was the writer John Gregory Dunne; and her aunt was the writer Joan Didion. Friday afternoon club, published by Penguin on June 11, is about coming of age in the era of Chasen, Natalie Wood, The Byrds and Charles Manson. It takes its title from the weekly gathering founded by Griffin’s sister, Dominique, where one could have found the young George Clooney and Miguel Ferrer.

But more importantly, the book is about Dominique herself. The story revolves around the time of her death in 1982. The 22-year-old actress was at the start of a flourishing career: she played a screaming woman in Steven Spielberg’s film. Fighting spirit — when she was choked to death by her boyfriend in a high-profile case that raised awareness of domestic violence and victims’ rights, in part because of the killer’s extremely light sentence. The murder, the trial, the media coverage, the unthinkable chain of violence, loss, injustice and rage, devastated a family already torn apart by alcoholism,…

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