JAPAN-AMERICA SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON, INC. 202-833-2210 info@jaswdc.org

Enough with “Mountain Man” Stereotypes: Leah Hampton Interviewed by Michelle Hogmire

January 22, 2022 JASWDC

Enough with “Mountain Man” Stereotypes: Leah Hampton Interviewed by Michelle Hogmire

On bifurcated character, champagne socialists, plus the have to center feminist political ecology in talks of contemporary Appalachia.

“Nothing’ll ever fix what’s broken-in this city, it would be good if they’d at least obtain the dead keep outside of the parking area at edibles nation.” Thus starts the concept facts of Leah Hampton’s first range F*ckface: and various other Stories (Henry Holt & Co.)—a concurrently raucous and sobering see outlying presence from inside the modern-day American southern area. The tenor of this starting range, world-weary and crazy, characterizes Hampton’s prose: she mines the fractured marks of field on land and connections while nonetheless making time for jokes. That laughter is normally the way we, and Hampton’s characters, survive.

These tales tend to be filled by difficult people and larger dreamers, by college students applied at slaughterhouses, by a gay technology sergeant with bigoted mothers, by broken families of beekeepers, by a female in deep love with the woman husband’s best friend—but even more in love with the glow of Dolly Parton. As a West Virginia native (the only real condition considered Appalachian in its totality), we sensed an intense connection to the folks and mountains of F*ckface, and that I realized I got to talk to the writer. Hampton was a graduate with the Michener heart for article authors, and she stays in the azure Ridge Mountains.

Michelle Hogmire I’m ashamed to say that I became ashamed of being from western Virginia for a long period. Therefore thank you so much. For F*ckface. I’m going to get all teary about this, but it’s seriously just about the most precise and diverse representations of Appalachia while the region’s working-class individuals who I’ve browse in quite a while. Might you let me know concerning your history plus relationship to where you’re from?

Leah Hampton I’m truly, really glad your liked the ebook, and this spoke to you personally as individuals from the part. That’s awesome crucial that you myself.

I’m particular a crossbreed Appalachian, which I think was maybe why I’m writing about the area in a different way than what readers normally discover. My dad try from Harlan County, Kentucky, and I was born in Charleston and just have Jersey City NJ sugar daddies lived in western vermont just about all living. But my mama was Brit, so I have double citizenship and fork out a lot of the time offshore.

I will stop here and say this does not render myself want. My personal mother’s area is like my dad’s—very working-class, factory-floor socialist sort. Everyone in my family constantly worked, and I’m initial individual finishing college, create a book, etc. I often love to say I’m a bifurcated lady, half European in my planning, half pissed-off mountain female. 1 / 2 contained in this Appalachian industry, and 1 / 2 away. I think that’s a great vantage aim from where to create fiction. Particularly if you’re writing about a place that is as bittersweet, complicated, and storied that area.

MH just what directed you to create these reports?

LH I wanted to create reports that complex and feminized the Appalachia i am aware, and highlighted environmentally friendly trouble in your community. We don’t talking sufficient how male narratives and gazes dominate the representation within this destination, or simply how much of Appalachia are non-normative, non-white, non-whatever-people-think-it-is. Also, I wanted to write tales that juxtaposed humor and control. Because for me, this will be a location where adore and damage are so most close with each other, everyday. Essentially, I’m a weird and special individual surviving in a weird and special spot. I desired to create the ebook I couldn’t select, write the reports I wanted to read, about what it’s enjoy residing here.

My personal very first work regarding university got doing work for Greenpeace, and that I performed most eco-warrior items within my youthfulness, and so the tales when you look at the publication concentrate on the symbiosis between system and secure. Permanently or ill, in Appalachia all of our knowledge is connected with this ecosystem. We do something about the land—abusing, exploiting, getting, loving, cultivating, wishing. And, therefore, the land acts upon all of us. That inextricability pushes the plots and private arcs of plenty of my characters. The epigraph for your publication are a quote from Wendell Berry: “You cannot conserve the area besides the individuals, and/or group in addition to the secure.” This is certainly a manuscript saturated in visitors and spots who want preserving, so there are no easy responses for any ones. I’m not-good at responses, so the publication does not really offer any. Alternatively, I’m hoping it will make folks envision and find out some nuance in which maybe they haven’t before.

Finally, we quite didn’t need to write a book about “old” Appalachia. That’s started done, and done attractively, very there’s no point in my experience currently talking about the way-back or seated on granny’s porch. All of the reports become set-in the very last twenty years approximately, and figures need modern-day trouble, contemporary opinions and tips. I am hoping I’ve represented the rural skills as maybe not an outdated or antique one.