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Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The…

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

by Lisa Alther

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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 parentage will always be 50% unknowable mystery, I bristle a little when people assign importance to ancestry. I tend to err on the side of who you are does matter and who your ancestors were doesn't, so once Alther began to explain how hugely important knowing particulars of her heritage is to her, she began to lose me.

I found much of the book to be wildly discursive and only intermittently interesting. It just wasn't for me, though I think that the more genealogically inclined would dig it. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
The subtitle of this book is misleading. It is really more of a memoir/travelogue with only tangential connection to the whole question of Melungeon ancestry. Toward the last quarter of the book that topic becomes more prevalent, but the main theme is identity: ethnic and regional. If you are looking for a lot of material on the genealogy of the Melungeons, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for an entertaining and witty memoir that is quick and easy to read, you will not be disappointed. ( )
  keferunk | Mar 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 155970876X, Paperback)

Most of us know who we are and where we come from. AltherÕs mother hailed from New York, her father from Virginia, and every day they reenacted the Civil War at home. Then a babysitter told Alther about the Melungeons: six-fingered child-snatchers who hid in caves. Forgetting about these creepy kidnappers until she had a daughter of her own, Alther learned they were an isolated group of dark-skinned peopleÑsome with extra thumbsÑliving in East Tennessee. But who were they? Descendants of RaleighÕs Lost Colony? The children of European settlers, African slaves, and Native Americans? Learning a cousin had his extra thumbs removed, Alther set out to discover who these Melungeons really wereÑand why her grandmother wouldnÕt let her visit their Virginia relatives. Sweeping and provocative, KINFOLKS shimmers with wicked humor, illustrating just how wacky and wonderful our human family really is.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:32 -0400)

The author looks for her father's family in Virginia. They may have belonged to a mysterious group known as the Melungeons.

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Arcade Publishing

An edition of this book was published by Arcade Publishing.

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