Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors
In this dazzling, hilarious memoir, best-selling author of Kinflicks Lisa Alther chronicles her search for the missing--often mysterious--branches of her family tree. Most of us grow up thinking we know who we are and where we come from. Lisa Alther's mother hailed from New York, her father... show more
In this dazzling, hilarious memoir, best-selling author of Kinflicks Lisa Alther chronicles her search for the missing--often mysterious--branches of her family tree. Most of us grow up thinking we know who we are and where we come from. Lisa Alther's mother hailed from New York, her father from Virginia, and every day they reenacted the Civil War at home in East Tennessee. Then one night a grizzled babysitter with brown teeth told Lisa about the Melungeons: six-fingered child-snatchers who hid in cliff caves outside town. Forgetting about these creepy kidnappers until she had a daughter of her own, Lisa learned that the Melungeons were actually a group of dark-skinned people--some with extra thumbs--living in isolated pockets in the South. But who were they? Where did they come from? Were they the descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, or of shipwrecked Portuguese or Turkish sailors? Or were they the children of European frontiersmen, African slaves, and Native Americans? Theories abounded, but no one seemed to know for sure. Learning that a cousin had had his extra thumbs removed, Lisa set out to discover who these mysterious Melungeons really were and why her grandmother wouldn't let her visit their Virginia relatives. Were there Melungeons in the family tree? Lisa assembled a hoard of clues over the years, but DNA testing finally offered answers. Part sidesplitting travelogue, part how--and how not--to climb your family tree, Kinfolks shimmers with wicked humor, illustrating just how wacky and wonderful our human family really is.
Publish date: April 11th 2007
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Pages no: 264
Edition language: English
I picked this up almost reflexively, after all, I've loved Alther's fiction and I'm a big fan of the memoir. However, this meandering philosophical search for Alther's genetic heritage didn't suit me at all. To be fair, I do have a dog in this particular hunt. I suspect that because my own child's p...