In the past, I’ve only posted links to my Ancestor Trouble newsletters here under special circumstances, but going forward I’ll be mentioning them, because I’m often asked what I’ve been reading and thinking about, and while my newsletter is far from a comprehensive summary, it’s the best I’ve got that I’m able to share, particularly given that I have been taking a Twitter (X) break since November 2022 and increasingly cannot be found on social media. Here’s the beginning of my latest dispatch:
I’m experimenting with not explaining myself after an absence. So: I’m back! I’ve got a one-day afternoon workshop coming up from the Miami Book Fair for the Miami Big Read this spring: Family Stories We (Tell Ourselves We) Can’t Tell. I taught the subject in my extended Writing About Ancestor Trouble class, and I’m looking forward to offering this small stand-alone event, which will be held in Miami on March 16 from 1-3 pm, is limited to 15 students, and is priced at $30, for affordability.1 You can register on the Book Fair site.
The Miami Big Read pick this year is Madeline Miller’s epic and propulsive yet intimate second novel, Circe, with its themes of family and finding your voice and magic in the aftermath of trauma and amid estrangement when your parents are actual gods. Teaching the class is especially exciting because I grew up in the 305 and because I had the honor of interviewing Madeline at the launch of her gut-wrenching first novel, The Song of Achilles, at McNally Jackson all the way back in 2012. So the class will be a homecoming and an honor for me. I’ve got more stuff in the works; timing depends on my writing deadlines and other commitments.
After some reflection on what I’m doing here in this newsletter and what I’d like to be doing more of, I’m planning send it twice monthly. One dispatch will be this freeform kind you’ve been used to, and the other will be a new Art and Kinship series around an author or other artist, their body of work, and how their biological, adoptive, or imaginative ancestors, or other understandings of kinship, influence their art. Sometimes I’ll talk with the authors, sometimes not. First up: Emily Raboteau, later this month, followed by Garrard Conley in March. Both have new books I loved coming out next month.
If you’re wondering: keeping this newsletter free is part of the way I keep engaging with the concerns I wrote about in Ancestor Trouble, and connecting with people who are earnestly grappling with those questions. At the moment I don’t have plans to introduce a paywall.
Also discussed: upcoming newsletter installments on art and kinship, with the first two devoted to the work of Emily Raboteau (February) and Garrard Conley (March). Idra Novey’s superb Take What You need. Lucille Clifton’s slim, perfect memoir Generations, her poem of the same name, and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’ upcoming biography of Clifton. The mystery and philosophy and epigenetics of twinship; Abbott Kahler’s Where You End; Helena de Bres’ How to Be Multiple, and Anne Hellman’s praise for it; Tim Spector’s Identically Different; Erika Hayasaki story in Elle on twin sisters born in Korea and separated as infants who both are fashion designers. Isotopes, ancestors, and spirit; Sebene Selasse’s Ancestors to Elements; Matthew Cheney’s “The Rats in the Walls”; how pagan practices endured into Christianity in Rome; Hannah Oliver Depp’s reading recommendation for Joe Biden; Matthew McNaught’s Immanuel. Yahdon Israel and Garrett Bucks’ The Right Kind of White. Hannah Moushabeck’s children’s book, Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine; Zaina Arafat’s recommendation of The Lemon Tree; Joy Harjo on M. Scott Momaday; Lauren LeBlanc’s praise for Temim Fruchter’s City of Laughter; Shannon Gibney’s The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption; Mark Twain’s witchhunter uncle in Ireland; Susan Maddux’s textile workshop; Latria Graham speaking with Crystal Wilkinson about Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts. And more, including Rufus and his ball, pictured above in a photo by Max.