A Whaleship Full of Cannibals (Who Happen to Be My Family)
My parents love the tale of how our ancestors’ whaling ship capsized, turning the crew into cannibals. As an environmental reporter, there’s no story I dread hearing more.
Dreading awkward conversations with extended family over the Thanksgiving table? You’ve got nothing on this writer! Melissa Cronin’s tale of carnivorous family lore is one of our all-time favorite reads. (BTW If you have your own family story—awkward or otherwise—that demands to be told, don’t forget you have just 10 days left to enter the 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize.)
My mother clutches the drumstick in her hand, growling like a dog. A spark of menace in her eye, she gnaws at the bone, maniacally shouting “The cartilage!” over and over. I sit staring at her across the Thanksgiving table, mortified.
This gruesome theatre has been part of the entertainment at family holiday dinners for each of my 24 years because we are all the descendants of cannibals.
In the early 1800s an immense sperm whale collided headlong with a ship that carried some of my mother’s ancestors, leaving them at the edges of the Earth without hope, and eventually they were forced to eat one another to survive.
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