book cover: Apple, Tree

University of Nebraska Press, September, 2019

"[A] sparkling anthology.... These essays, in addition to being resonant in their own right, will also move readers to recollect stories of their own parents." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Undoubtedly, parents influence us more deeply and irrevocably than any other people in our lives. The apple, after all, doesn’t fall very far from the tree. This topic is given its rich and thoughtful due in Apple, Tree: Writers on Their Parents, an engrossing anthology of 25 delightfully diverse personal essays.” —Laurie Hertzel, The Star Tribune

“The essays are strong and sharp....Not one essay veers into sentimentality.” — Lily Meyer, National Public Radio

“Funderburg, who has explored her own parents and background in her memoir ‘Pig Candy,’ here gathers pieces from writers about a trait they’ve inherited from a mother or father. Ann Patchett, Daniel Mendelsohn and Laura van den Berg, among others, meditate on how attributes both physical and spiritual tie us to and distance us from our elders.” — Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post

Apple, Tree is an unflinching exploration of the complicated geography of families. At once heartfelt and searching, these affecting stories remind us that parental likenesses once shunned can surprise, move, and reconnect us in unexpected ways.”—Andrea Barnet, author of Visionary Women: How Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall, and Alice Waters Changed Our World

 

It happens to us all: we think we’ve settled into an identity, a self, and then out of nowhere and with great force, the traces of our parents appear to us, in us—in mirrors, in gestures, in reaction and reactivity, at weddings and funerals, and in troubled thoughts that crouch in dark corners of our minds.

In this masterful collection of new essays, the apple looks at the tree. Twenty-five writers deftly explore a trait they’ve inherited from a parent, reflecting on how it affects the lives they lead today—how it shifts their relationship to that parent (sometimes posthumously) and to their sense of self.

Edited and with an introduction by Lise Funderburg, Apple, Tree’s all-star lineup of writers brings eloquence, integrity, and humor to topics such as arrogance, obsession, psychics, grudges, table manners, loss, and laundry. Together, their pieces form a prismatic meditation on how we make fresh sense of ourselves and our parents when we see the pieces of them that live on in us.

Complete list of contributors: Karen Grigsby Bates, S. Bear Bergman, Kate Carroll de Gutes, Leland Cheuk, Lolis Eric Elie, Carolyn Ferrell, John Freeman, Lauren Grodstein, Jane Hamilton, Susan Ito, Mat Johnson, Donna Masini, Daniel Mendelsohn, Marc Mewshaw, Laura Miller, Kyoko Mori, Ann Patchett, Dana Prescott, Lizzie Skurnick, Avi Steinberg, Angelique Stevens, Clifford Thompson, Shukree Hassan Tilghman, Sallie Tisdale, and Laura van den Berg.