Flotsam: A Life in Debris

Veteran journalist Denis Edward Horgan draws from a rich career of ground-level experience to discuss life’s core lessons in this dynamic memoir.

A vibrant perspective is presented on the central themes of humanity—strength, heroism, challenges, faith, and love—in a series of touching, humorous anecdotes. Each true story corresponds to one of the numerous souvenirs on Horgan’s desk, from a rubber ducky to a strawberry-flavored condom.

While the settings range from Burma to Washington, DC, the stories are unified by a central theme: the complexity and beauty of human life.

A must read, beautifully written.

Faith Middleton, WNPR


Praise for Flotsam, A Life in Debris:


Faith Middleton, WNPR

“… A must read, beautifully written”

“At first glance, Denis Horgan’s new book of essays, ‘Flotsam,’ is about the little everyday things, the stuff all over on your desk, the trinkets on the bulletin board. But in just a few minutes you realize that in Horgan’s hands the little things are a launch pad to what makes for a meaningful life.

“Horgan is an archeologist of the soul in a way, plumbing his way through simple objects in search of deep, rich humanity around him. As a reporter and editor at many newspapers including the Hartford Courant, where he was a gem, Denis Horgan has seen the worst of war, poverty and pain but with a fine ear he listens for things in people instead of just listening to them.

“Where the beautiful voice in his writing comes from I can’t really say though he seems born of great Irish storytellers. It’s plain from these pages in ‘Flotsam’ that this is the man you’d want as your best friend.

For the wit, the wisdom and trust you’d feel in his hands. And also because best friends and writers need to know what matters. This is the guy for the job.”


“The same personality with the same blend of wisdom and wit shines from all of these essays, the same generous love of the world and its beings.”

– Nuala O’Faolain, author of “Are You Somebody?”


“Denis Horgan looks at the world with eyes that see the extraordinary in the so-called ordinary things we so often overlook. Here is a man who has looked tragedy and suffering in the eye: grew up a hardscrabble latchkey kid with a love for newspapers and, God help him, the Red Sox; became a copy boy at the Boston Globe; did his tour of duty with the Vietnam war; became editor & publisher, writer, and (literally) head of exorcisms for a newspaper in Thailand; came home and navigated the politics of newspapering life inside the Beltway; cared for a brother dying of AIDS; choked in the dust of ground zero; survived teenage sons!; paced hospital floors of a neonatal ICU awaiting the fate of his beloved grandson.

Through it all, he shows us with wit and wisdom the beauty to be seen, and gives us eyes to see it; lessons to be learned and the heart to learn them.”

– Margaret A. Salinger, author of “Dream Catchers.”


“Those of us who’ve gotten a taste of Denis’s work at the Hartford Courant are happy to have here the whole enchilada — page after page of evocative writing about the utter uniqueness of our common ground, the office desk and its trinkets. This is a long way from flotsam. In fact, it’s downright lyrical.”

– Susan Campbell, columnist for The Hartford Courant