My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist. He was already married ten years when he first clamped eyes on my mother. In 1968, she was working at the gift-wrap counter in Davison’s downtown when my father asked her to wrap the carving knife he had bought his wife for their wedding anniversary. Mother said she knew that something wasn’t right between a man and a woman when the gift was a blade. I said that maybe it means there was a kind of trust between them. I love my mother, but we tend to see things a little bit differently. The point is that James’s marriage was never hidden from us. James is what I call him. His other daughter, Chaurisse, the one who grew up in the house with him, she calls him Daddy, even now.

How much of this is autobiography? Is your father really a bigamist?

The dedication to my book is: “To my parents, who, to the best of my knowledge, are married only to each other.”  It’s funny—when it comes to memoir, we want to catch the author in a lie.  For fiction, we want to catch the author telling the truth.