Monday, May 28, 2012

Megan Mayhew Bergman

Megan Mayhew Bergman grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and attended Wake Forest University. She has graduate degrees from Duke University and Bennington College. Her stories have appeared in the 2010 New Stories from the South anthology, Ploughshares, Oxford American, One Story, Narrative, PEN American, The Kenyon Review, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, Greensboro Review, and elsewhere.

Her new story collection is Birds of a Lesser Paradise.

From the author's Q & A with Anna-Claire Stinebring at Full Stop:

You’re originally from North Carolina, though you now live in Vermont. Would you consider yourself a Southern writer?

I spent 30 years in the South, and three in Vermont. I feel like a Southern writer, and yet I already feel ties to New England. What I value most, I’ve realized, is not geography, but proximity to the natural world. I am a girl from the sticks if nothing else. I guess what I can understand, and perhaps feel most at home in, is a small town. (Cue Mellencamp.)

Sometimes I feel like the contemporary Southern writing that gets the most attention capitalizes on being grotesque: decay and trailer parks. Do you find there are tropes that come with writing about a certain place that you have to combat?

I go back and forth on this, and I think the success of writing Southern narratives and Southern characters rests on the skill of the author. I certainly wrote some early stories that stirred up tired ideas, stories I’d like to forget about old people and biscuits and church.

The thing I find most difficult to read in bad “Southern” writing is phonetic dialect; nothing reveals a tin ear like bad Southern. If an author has given us good characters, a palpable setting, and strong word choices, we get it — authors can...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue