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Writing the Family

One thing that we always assume, wrongly, is that if we write about people honestly they will resent it and become angry. If you come at it for the right reasons . . . if you treat them with complexity and compassion, sometimes they will feel as though they’ve been honored, not because they’re presented in some ideal way but because they’re presented with understanding.

—KIM BARNES

My brother is swinging the bat and I’m bored in the stands, seven years old. My mother has given me a piece of paper and a pen that doesn’t have much ink in it. I’ve written, “I have two brothers. One is a little one. One is a big one. There are only two girls in our family. One is me. One is my mother.” The mothers sit all around me, their straight ...

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