Cover image for Almost famous women : stories
Almost famous women : stories
Bergman, Megan Mayhew.
Personal Author:
1st Scribner hardcover ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [2015]

Physical Description:
236 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Pretty, grown-together children -- Siege at Whate Cay -- Norma Millay's fiolm noir period -- Romaine remains -- Hazel Eaton and the wall of death -- Autobiography of Allegra Byron -- Expression theory -- Saving Butterfly McQueen -- Who killed Dolly Wilde? -- High-grade bitch sits down for lunch -- Internees -- Lottery, redux -- Hell-diving women.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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From the acclaimed author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise , a dazzling new collection that explores the lives of unforgettable women in history.

The fascinating characters in Megan Mayhew Bergman's new stories are defined by their creative impulses, fierce independence, and sometimes reckless decisions. In "The Siege at Whale Cay," cross-dressing Standard Oil heiress Joe Carstairs seduces Marlene Dietrich. In "A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down for Lunch," aviator and writer Beryl Markham lives alone in Nairobi and engages in a battle of wills with a stallion. In "Hell-Diving Women," the first integrated, all-girl swing band sparks a violent reaction in North Carolina.

Other heroines, born in proximity to the spotlight, struggle to distinguish themselves: Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde's wild niece, Dolly; Edna St. Vincent Millay's talented sister, Norma; James Joyce's daughter, Lucia.

Almost Famous Women offers and elegant and intimate look at artists who desired recognition. The world wasn't always kind to the women who star in these stories, but through Mayhew Bergman's stunning imagination, they receive the attention they deserve.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The conceit for Bergman's second collection (after Birds of a Lesser Paradise) is immediately appealing-short, punchy sketches of women either completely neglected by popular memory or better known for their association with men. Hence we have Lucia Joyce, daughter of James, in "Expression Theory," Dora Millay occupying the shadow of her sister, Vincent, in "Dora Millay's Film Noir Period," and the steady dissolution of Oscar Wilde's niece in "Who Killed Dolly Wilde?" Bergman's strongest stories concentrate on the historical moments in which her cast of characters (which includes conjoined twins, lady stunt motorcyclists, and smart-mouthed horn players) function as vectors, precisely because these women-lesbians, artists, and African Americans-remain outsiders in their own era. The larger-than-life boat racer "Joe" Carstairs makes her private island into a refuge for lost souls in "The Siege At Whale Cay"; the painter Romaine Brooks shuns even her servants in "Romain Remains"; and Butterfly McQueen repudiates both God and her most famous role, the maid from Gone With the Wind, in "Saving Butterfly McQueen." But for all its veneration for these women, the collection becomes repetitive-too many devoted friends narrating the story of their doomed and famous peers, too many aging burnt-out dames and, overall, too little access to the actual voice and psychology of its heroines. Still, even with weaker entries like the redundant Shirley Jackson impression "The Lottery, Redux," the collection is worth it for its feminist reclamation of the narrative that-for example-celebrates Byron and forgets his abandoned daughter. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Every so often a work of fiction engages the reader immediately and resonates long after the book is finished. Such a work is this marvelous collection of stories about remarkable people whose lives had been reduced to mere footnotes. At the top of her craft, the empathetic Bergman (Birds of a Lesser Paradise) embellishes select moments in their history. While the stories themselves are unequivocally fictitious, the characters are not. We meet a member of the first all-female integrated swing band and Allegra, Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter. We also meet a cigar-smoking speedboat racer who calls herself Joe; Dolly, Oscar Wilde's disturbed niece; and Norma, the sister of Edna St. Vincent Millay, to name but a few. The author has infused her characters with passion and yearning; they are so lifelike we feel we know them. VERDICT Writing with brilliant cadence and economy, Bergman is an impressionist who uses her brilliant palette to illuminate facets of the lives of these brave and creative lesser-known strivers.-Joyce Townsend, Pittsburg, CA (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.