"Why aren’t you living in a trailer park?” a writer asked me once.

I was (and am) a fan of this writer’s books, and I had just met them at a small gathering in Manhattan. We were talking about the writer’s work and some other things, and over the course…

A tree full of owls, a calf at a new gate, a mouse peeing on cotton — my mom and I disagree on many things, but one thing that brings us joy together is remembering my Texan granny’s expressions. Grannyisms, my mom calls them. Granny was born into poverty in…

In the early 1980s, my mom claimed to see demons everywhere, coiling around drivers who cut her off, perching on department store shoppers, floating above strangers walking down the road. Nearly everyone who didn’t agree with my mom was possessed, it seemed, from secular news anchors to the teachers at…

At times while working on my book over the years, I would become resentful of it, as if it had its own expectations, as if the draft itself were insisting I recount the entire history of genealogy in the United States or offer a dissertation on genetics. Ugh, now I…

When visiting your family becomes a chore

The last time I stayed with my father in Miami over the holidays, I made the mistake of thinking he was lonely. I had a bad habit of trying to decode his emotional state from external markers, in this case his threadbare green bathmat. Part of a towel…

Maud Newton

Writer. Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation (Random House, March 2022). Opinions mine. She/her & they/them.

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