Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree

Front Cover
Arcade Pub., 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 241 pages
27 Reviews
In this dazzling, hilarious memoir, best-selling author ofKinflicks Lisa Alther chronicles her search for the missing--oftenmysterious--branches of her family tree.Most of us grow up thinking we know who we are and where we come from. LisaAlther's mother hailed from New York, her father from Virginia, and everyday they reenacted the Civil War at home in East Tennessee. Then one nighta 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 herown, Lisa learned that the Melungeons were actually a group of dark-skinnedpeople--some with extra thumbs--living in isolated pockets in the South.But who were they? Where did they come from? Were they the descendants ofSir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, or of shipwrecked Portuguese or Turkishsailors? Or were they the children of European frontiersmen, Africanslaves, and Native Americans? Theories abounded, but no one seemed to knowfor sure.Learning that a cousin had had his extra thumbs removed, Lisa set out todiscover who these mysterious Melungeons really were and why hergrandmother wouldn't let her visit their Virginia relatives. Were thereMelungeons in the family tree? Lisa assembled a hoard of clues over theyears, but DNA testing finally offered answers.Part sidesplitting travelogue, part how--and how not--to climb your familytree, Kinfolks shimmers with wicked humor, illustrating just howwacky and wonderful our human family really is.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
10
3 stars
6
2 stars
7
1 star
3

Review: Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors

User Review  - Antonellam - Goodreads

I learned a lot from this book and appreciated all the theories about where Melungeons come from. (I even came up with one that the author later presented-hooray!) However, I found the author's ... Read full review

Review: Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors

User Review  - David - Goodreads

I didn't like this book too much. The search seemed disconnected, and it never really went into why the author was so curious (if it was I must of missed it). I did learn about the ties of the Moors ... Read full review

Contents

The Virginia Club
1
My Inner Hillbilly
23
Insects in Amber
43
Copyright

11 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Lisa Alther was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, on July 30, 1944. She graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in English literature in 1966. She worked briefly at Atheneum publishers in New York before moving to Vermont. There she wrote for Garden Way, Inc., and taught Southern Fiction at St. Michael's College in Winooski. Alther's first novel, Kinflicks, was published in 1976, followed by Original Sins; Other Women; Bedrock; and Five Minutes in Heaven. Her tragicomic novels, which feature feisty lesbian characters, have become international bestsellers and have been translated into several languages. She also wrote a novella, Birdman and the Dancer, based on a series of monotypes by Francoise Gilot. Alther's reviews and articles have appeared in many periodicals, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Natural History, Cosmopolitan, Yankee, and The Guardian. Alther's novels are studied in university courses in English, Southern, and Appalachian literature, women's studies, and gay and lesbian studies.

Bibliographic information