On Falsely Laying Claim to a Literary Lineage

The first time I admitted that yes, I was related to Francis Scott Key, it came as a shock, even to me, because, of course, I was lying. While my other college friends experimented with drugs and God, I experimented with genealogy.

Soon, I found myself trying to learn to pretend to be a writer and was surrounded by other pretend writers. “So you must be related to F. Scott Fitzgerald, too,” one of those pretend writers said. “Since his full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald and all. Surely you knew that.”

“Yes, I knew that.”

Of course I did not know that.

—Harrison Scott Key writing for Oxford American about the nature of names, and his history of (falsely) claiming to be a descendant of Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the lyrics to the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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