Editor Lise Funderburg and contributor Laura van den Berg discuss the new collection Apple, Tree.
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.
Apple, Tree’s all-star lineup of writers brings eloquence, integrity, and humor to topics such as arrogance, obsession, psychics, grudges, table manners, luck, and laundry. Contributors include Laura van den Berg, S. Bear Bergman, John Freeman, Jane Hamilton, Mat Johnson, Daniel Mendelsohn, Kyoko Mori, Ann Patchett, and Sallie Tisdale, among others. 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.
Lise Funderburg is a writer and editor and a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania. Funderburg’s collection of oral histories, Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk about Race and Identity, has become a core text in the study of American multiracial identity in college courses around the world. Her latest book is Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, National Geographic, Salon and the Nation.
Laura van den Berg is the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, and the novel Find Me. She is the recipient of a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, an O. Henry Award, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship. Born and raised in Florida, she lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog.