Writing Westward Podcast 016 - Frank Bergon - The New Old West

Conversation with Frank Bergon about his 2019 collection of essays "Two-Buck Chuck & The Marlboro Man: The New Old West."

Writing Westward Podcast       Episode 016


Frank Bergon

Two-Buck Chuck and the Marlboro Man: The New Old West
Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2019.




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Frank Bergon is Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College. He is a novelist, essayist, and critic of the American West, and member of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. His new collection of essays, Two-Buck Chuck and the Marlboro Man: The New Old West, was published by University of Nevada Press in 2019. These essays focus on the San Joaquin Valley in California, bringing its history and present into conversation with one another. Bergon tells stories of the region's inhabitants, their experiences in seemingly traditional "Old West" contexts, and their grappling with "New West" economies and socio-cultural devleopments. In these stories we discover "wesern" identities that overlap, compete, and meld. Bergon uses the story of wine industry figure Fred Franzia to consider how individuals and industries navigate a region in constant transition. Bergon deconstructs western "identity" and iconic imagery through stories of his life-long friend Darrell Winfield - the real-life cowboy made famous in iconic "Marlboro Man" advertisements. Bergon presents vignettes from Winfield's life to illustrate the tensions between imagined, manufactured, and actual regional identities and lives. Bergon's eloquent storytelling reveals the complexity of the region and asks insightful questions about how we think about its past and present.


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