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Mar 22, 2022

The Weight of Family History

A new article in The New Republic web site, written by Colin Dickey, caught my eye. I haven’t yet read this book but it just moved up to the top of my “to read” list:

“It’s never been easier to piece together a family tree. But what if it brings uncomfortable facts to light?

“From an early age, I’d known that my grandfather had been an alcoholic, and the common wisdom that the disease skips generations burned in me, leading me to believe that the merest taste would doom me to a short life of addiction bound to end ignominiously in a ditch somewhere. This was an extreme response, perhaps, but I certainly wasn’t alone in how I let stories of my forebears determine my beliefs and behaviors, and in how for years I saw ancestry—with its heady mix of genetics and family lore—as nearly inescapable destiny.

“In the same way we talk regularly of certain diseases as hereditary, we also often allow the stories of our grandparents and great-grandparents to influence our behavior and identity. It’s this sticky web of expectations that Maud Newton’s Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation attempts to untangle, sifting through the anxiety of influence that is inheritance, genetics, and how they conspire to create a human life.””

You can read more at: https://bit.ly/3iv0NHO.